The Third Reich staged
as the ultimate work of art
Christopher Nolan in
Dunkirk last Sunday
A Celebration of
Science and Reason
New York City
My First Six Months
An Inconvenient Sequel:
Truth to Power
AL GORE 2020
William und Kate
Am zweiten Tag ihrer
Prinz William und seine Frau
Kate in Heidelberg.
Sie besuchten das Deutsche
Gegen Abend ging sie
zurück nach Berlin.
AR Es war schön,
2017 July 23
Philosophical prolegomenon to a viewing of
The Birth of Tragedy by Friedrich Nietzsche (1872, 1993
translation by Shaun Whiteside)
From the preface to Richard Wagner: "I imagine the moment when you, my
honoured friend, will receive this essay .. I am convinced that art
is the supreme task and the truly metaphysical activity of this life
in the sense of that man, my noble champion on that path, to whom I
dedicate this book."
derives its continuous development from the duality of the Apolline
and Dionysiac .. These two very different tendencies walk side by
side, usually in violent opposition to one another, inciting one
another to ever more powerful births, perpetuating the struggle of
the opposition .. until at last they seem to beget .. tragedy.
Apollo, the deity of all plastic forces, is also the soothsaying
god. Etymologically the shining one, the deity of light, he also
holds sway over the beautiful illusion of the inner fantasy world.
Schopenhauer has described the tremendous dread that grips man
when he suddenly loses his way amidst the cognitive forms of
appearance .. If we add to this dread the blissful ecstasy which ..
rises up .. from nature, we are vouchsafed a glimpse into the nature
of the Dionysiac .. the artistic power .. reveals itself .. amidst
the paroxysms of intoxication.
4 Apollo .. demands
moderation from his followers and .. self-knowledge .. The Apolline
Greeks .. were forced to feel .. their entire existence .. was based
on a veiled substratum of suffering and knowledge, revealed .. by
8 Enchantment is the precondition of all
dramatic art .. In the light of this insight, we must see Greek
tragedy as the Dionysiac chorus, continuously discharging itself in
an Apolline world of images.
16 According to Schopenhauer
.. we must see music as the immediate language of the will .. we can
conclude that music can give birth to the myth .. and the tragic
myth above all: the myth that speaks symbolically of the Dionysiac
25 Music and tragic myth are to an equal extent
expressions of the Dionysiac capacity of a people, and they are
Hans Zimmer scored a triumph of the will in
Christopher Nolan eschewed war porn for a
powerful and superbly crafted disaster movie.
Dunkirk brings together his finest qualities in a study of survival. The action
unspools in three interlaced strands that bend our perception of
Nolan had turned the Batman franchise into the
Dark Knight trilogy, which grossed $2.5 billion worldwide.
Alongside that trio, his 2010 movie
Inception took place in a mind-bending dreamworld and Interstellar (2014) in the warped time of a black hole.
Nolan was born in 1970 in London. His father was British, his mother
American. He studied English literature at University College
London, where he met his future wife and producer, Emma Thomas. They
have been married for 17 years and have four children.
AR I absorbed the
drama of Dunkirk in iSense at the Bournemouth Odeon. Dionysiac
Germans hammered Apolline Brits and deafening bombs and bullets
shook my body. My own bit part in the night scene in a train station
is invisible in the final cut.
2017 July 22
EU West End — UK
Brextremists rarely ask whether others want
any part of Empire 2.0. Donald Trump may or may not give Brits a
great deal full of goodies. Canada sees the US and the EU as much
more important trading partners than the UK. India has made new
agreements with London, but only 1.7% of UK exports go to India,
only 9% to all Commonwealth countries. The EU has free trade
agreements with 32 Commonwealth countries.
The EU has the
best cards in the Brexit poker. It is well prepared and is holding
together. The UK government still has no clear strategy on key
issues. Insiders see the chance of an agreement by the end of 2018
for an orderly Brexit as near zero. A transition period will be
needed to prevent a chaotic relapse to WTO rules.
hopes will be dashed. It will be hard to avoid that
humiliating end of empire feeling.
EU East End — Poland
Poland was long seen as the paragon among East
End member states. But Jaroslaw Kaczynski and his ruling Law and
Justice (PiS) party have turned Poland into a problem for the EU.
Kaczynski thinks in nationalist terms and sees the EU as a source of
cash rather than a community of solidarity. His party is dismantling
the constitutional separation of powers, despite protests from
Brussels, Berlin, and Polish activists.
Kaczynski envisions a
generous state with a nationalist and Catholic identity. He presents
himself as the defender of the common people against the
consequences of economic liberalism. He sees the Poles as a heroic
people forever victimized by Russia and Germany, and calls the EU an
instrument of German power.
A large majority of Poles support EU membership. Diplomats fear Poles could stumble to an
2017 July 21
Philosophy today is a
backwater, but 70 years ago things were different. Marxism was
winning converts worldwide. A new philosophy was needed that
provided an uncompromising vindication of free markets and contested
Rational choice theory holds that people make (or
should make) choices rationally by ranking the alternatives
presented to them with regard to transitivity and completeness. They
then choose the alternative that maximizes their utility, advancing
their relevant goals at minimal cost. The theory takes a strongly
individualist view of human life.
Rational choice theory was
elevated from an empirical theory covering certain empirical
contexts into a normative theory of the proper operation of the
human mind. Scientific method was already installed as coextensive
with reason itself. Scientists choose from an array of alternative
theories, under a preference for highest probability, in a series of
Cold War philosophy continues to structure
US society at large. It proclaims ethical neutrality. However
laudable or nefarious my goals might be, I will be better able to
achieve them if I have wealth and power. We therefore derive an
ethical imperative to increase wealth and power.
promulgating free markets and contested elections gave the
philosophy homes in departments of economics and political science,
where it thrives today. The philosophy is individualist and neutral
in regard to ends. Its ethic is no ethic at all — greed is good.
Another problem: Whatever I choose has at least one alternative,
or there would be no choice. But if I identify myself at the outset
with any of my plurality of alternatives, I cannot choose any
alternative to it. Any alternative I consider in the course of
making a rational decision is something I can walk away from and
still be me. My fundamental identity is as a rational chooser who
opts for the highest utility.
To act freely is to act from
your entire moral being. Hegel: freedom is the apprehension of
necessity — to understand what you have to do to be you. Freedom of
choice is valuable only when situated within wider horizons of
Sam Harris should
What can years and years of nuclear terror
teach us about how the existential fear of mass death and societal
collapse might affect our ability to respond to climate change?
Stories related to climate change have failed to tap into
deep-seated pre-existing terrors. Nuclear fear draws on a number of
extremely potent tropes. During the Cold War, people living in fear
of nuclear apocalypse often reported feeling like they were being
carried away by something ancient and inexorable.
climate change lacks a visceral image of the worst-case scenario.
Nuclear fear also benefits from our bias toward individual stories.
Because climate change is about social fate, not individual agency,
it is much less dramatic to witness, much more difficult to
villainize, and much easier to ignore.
The current US
president seems entirely unbothered by climate change, It is
tempting to think that ringing alarm bells could force citizens to
insist on positive action.
AR I fear Earth could become
another hell-hole like Venus.
UK environment secretary Michael Gove
"deeply regrets" the Trump administration's approach to the Paris
agreement on climate change: "The world's second-biggest generator
of carbon emissions can't simply walk out of the room when the heat
On Brexit: "Of course it's important we explore new
trading opportunities, with the United States and other nations
across the world but it must not be, and the cabinet is agreed on
this, at the risk of dropping any environmental standards
AR Gove is smart
enough to fear Venus.
Heiraten, so meine Erkenntnis mit etwas
Abstand, ist nicht nur überflüssig, sondern total bekloppt. Heiraten
ändert nämlich nichts. Nichts wird besser, schöner, sicherer.
Man fühle sich vor allem sicherer, sagen vor allem Frauen. Aber
das stimmt nicht. Verbundenheit ist ein Gefühl, das sich schon vor
der Heirat eingestellt haben sollte, sonst käme man ja auch gar
nicht erst auf die dämliche Idee mit der Hochzeit.
bedeutet für Frauen in Deutschland: sich klein zu machen. Etwa jede
dritte Ehe wird geschieden, und Unterhaltszahlungen sind auch nicht
mehr das, was sie mal waren. Seit 2008 gilt das Prinzip der
Siehe "Choice" oben!
Andrea Hanna Hünniger
Das, was am
perfektesten wirkt, scheitert oft umso brutaler. Ich möchte deshalb
schon vorab einen Vorschlag unterbreiten: Ich möchte das
Scheidenlassen gerne, wenn nicht verbieten, dann wenigstens
Auf dem Weg zur Ehe reden wir über die Liebe und
das Glück, aber nachdem die Ringe getauscht sind, sprechen wir ganz
altmodisch von Selbstauflösung, Loyalität und harter Arbeit. Wir
können uns zwingen, loyal und aufopfernd zu sein, aber wir können
uns nicht zwingen, zu lieben. Wir haben sehr wenig Kontrolle über
Wenn eine Beziehung in der Krise ist, machen
wir keine Pause, die lang genug wäre, um uns fragen zu können, was
das Eheversprechen eigentlich bedeutet hat. Stattdessen erzählen wir
Geschichten darüber, wie die Liebe durch Entschlossenheit und harte
Arbeit erhalten bleibt, angeblich, aber wir glauben unseren
Geschichten nicht wirklich.
Sich scheiden zu lassen raubt
nicht nur unfassbar viel Energie, es ist auch teuer und
gesundheits-schädlich. Die Möglichkeit des nächsten Partners ist zwar noch
da, aber wir können vorher wissen, dass dieser die gleichen Probleme
mit sich bringt. Nämlich unsere eigenen.
Solange man nicht
kotzen muss, wenn der Partner zur Tür hereinkommt, sollte man sich
nicht scheiden lassen. Gerade für Frauen bedeutet Scheidung in
vielen Fällen einen finanziellen Absturz und die totale
gesellschaftliche Vernichtung. Ehe heißt Unterwerfung, Trennung
heißt Emanzipation, sagt man. Das ist leider nicht wahr.
Ehe beginnt als hoffnungsvolles, großzügiges Projekt zweier
Personen, die noch nicht wissen, wer sie sind und wer der andere
ist. Eigentlich ist sie ein Akt des Verzichts und ihre Ethik die dem
Aushalten und der Solidarität.
AR Ledig ist
erträglich, gehieratet ist besser.
Brexit with Stukas
My cuts of
a few reviews
Geoffrey Macnab, The independent
Winston Churchill called
it a colossal military disaster. Christopher Nolan shows the blind
terror and helplessness of the 400,000 British
on the beach in the summer of 1940, seemingly abandoned, as Stuka
dive-bombers hammered them relentlessly.
The sound editing and
Hans Zimmer's pounding, disorienting electronic soundtrack induce
Nolan has gone to extraordinary lengths to
portray the Dunkirk evacuation in as realistic a fashion as
He intercuts between the stories of the soldiers,
sailors, and airmen. Much of the imagery seems surreal.
see the Germans at all, only their airplanes as they swoop down for
The soldiers wait for deliverance, hoping for a
Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
A superbly crafted film with
a powerful story, Dunkirk is terrifying, shattering spectacle on a
desolate and apocalyptic beachscape.
Nolan's best film so far
also has Hans Zimmer's best musical score: the eerie, keening,
groaning sound of a nightmare.
The disaster is big, the stakes
are high, the anxiety is unbearable. The battle is over before the
The soldiers wait on the beach like survivors of
some horrible natural disaster.
Robbie Collin, The Telegraph
Dunkirk is a work of
heart-hammering intensity and grandeur that demands to be seen on
the best and biggest screen within reach.
The strands of the
story unspool simultaneously, creating a sense that events are
driving toward a pivotal historical moment.
This is a British
film, with no concessions to the global market. The dialog is sparse
The actors are viscerally engaged with whatever
task is facing them in any given moment.
The superb Hans Zimmer
score is a constant presence.
Peter Debruge, Variety
This is the definitive cinematic
version of Dunkirk. Tommy is our avatar through the ordeal.
storyline features hardly any dialog, relying instead on us to adapt
to the unrelentingly harrowing situation.
Operation Dynamo was a
call to all civilian sailors, asking that they steer any ship or
boat they had across the English Channel
to rescue as many of the
stranded soldiers as possible. The Dunkirk beaches are a special
kind of hell in the film.
Andrew Pulver, The Guardian
With Dunkirk, Christopher
Nolan may at last be compared with the late, great Stanley Kubrick.
Nolan has taken on a cornerstone national myth and made a film as
stylistically bold as anything Kubrick engineered.
Dunkirk is not
Notional aibot with fog node
enabled by SAP Leonardo
SAP revises expected
total 2017 revenue to
KC Aerial Photo
Storm center 6 km
my sleepy head last night
Maxwell equations condensed
modern notation to a line
relating 4-vectors A and j
Messerschmitt Bf 109E
Josef 'Pips' Priller
2017 July 20
Brexit — FUK Madness
UK citizens living in the EU could lose the
right to live in another EU member state after Brexit. In talks this
week, the EU said it will not move without a guarantee for EU
citizens living in the UK to allow them to move to another EU state
and return to the UK.
Uncertainty faces nearly 5 million
people caught on the wrong side of the English Channel. About 1.2 million
UK nationals living in the EU are affected. EU officials say the UK
must make a reciprocal offer to protect the 3.5 million EU nationals
living in the UK.
Brextremists mad? Grant full reciprocal rights!
IoT Edge Computing
The Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of intelligent objects.
The core of an IoT solution is typically a central IT system for
storing, processing, and analyzing IoT data.
— IoT endpoints frequently cannot
transmit all their sensor data to the core.
— Some local systems
must make autonomous decisions fast and cannot wait for the cloud.
Edge processing can address these challenges.
An edge processing unit is a physical device, called an IoT gateway
or a fog node. It connects to devices at the edge and connects to
the core directly using high-speed internet. It also provides
security and lifecycle management at the edge.
computing is playing an increasingly important role in IoT
solutions. The industry trend is to deploy functionality as micro
services and use container technology for lifecycle management and
other benefits that come from isolation.
SAP Leonardo Edge
Services represent the forefront of defining and providing relevant
edge computing functionality such as persistence, stream processing,
visual and predictive analytics, and other micro services for the
edge. These services are designed for implementation on both
existing and emerging edge platforms.
SAP Leonardo Edge
— A distributed programming model for the edge
and the core
— A lifecycle model for edge services, platform, and
devices and sensors
— A deep integration with enterprise systems
to bring enterprise functionality to the edge
Edge Services empower live business by connecting things with people
AR SAP promotion — but music to my ears.
2017 July 19
Trump — Global Consequences
Stephen M. Walt
Donald Trump lacks competence. The
consequences in foreign policy are already apparent:
1 Big policy mistakes:
— Dropping the
Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)
— Walking away from the Paris
— Failing to appreciate that China was not going
to solve the North Korea problem
Other countries do not pay much attention to Washington:
Arabia is ignoring US efforts to resolve the dispute between the
Gulf states and Qatar.
— Israel doesn't care what Trump thinks
about the Palestinian dispute or the situation in Syria.
Korea has announced it will begin talks with North Korea.
EU and Japan just reached a large trade deal.
— TPP-like talks
are resuming without the United States.
— Germany and Canada say
they need to chart their own course.
Emmanuel Macron of
France and Justin Trudeau of Canada treated Trump with more respect
than he deserves. You'd tread carefully, too, if you found yourself
in the same room as a drunk rhinoceros.
Brexit — Colossal Disaster
It would be a disaster for the UK to leave
Euratom. The EU must accommodate the British, who must accept the
jurisdiction of the ECJ when it comes to overseeing Euratom.
I would urge the UK government not to listen to Guy Verhofstadt or
Michel Barnier. Verhofstadt wants to achieve a United States of
Europe and now wants to punish the British. Barnier wants to make
sure that Brexit is such a catastrophe that no country dares to take
the step of leaving the EU again.
This is a terrible
situation. In Germany, we value the ties we have with the British
and we value your voice in Europe. So I say to MPs: if you want to
think again on Euratom, we are all ears.
As we all face the
disaster of Brexit, perhaps it's too much to hope MPs will tell
the British people: "We've all made a colossal mistake."
2017 July 18
Australian prime minister Malcom Turnbull:
"The laws of mathematics are very commendable, but the only law that
applies in Australia is the law of Australia."
to force tech companies to give security services access to
encrypted messages. Encryption uses hard mathematics that cannot be
overturned by an eavesdropper. With all due respect to security
services who want to read messages sent by suspected terrorists,
encryption cannot be weakened for terrorists unless it is weakened
UK home secretary Amber Rudd recently called
encryption completely unacceptable. Late last year, the UK
parliament passed the Investigatory Powers Act that would force
companies to remove encryption. But encryption is also used for
online shopping, bank transactions, and so on. Politicians need to
Like it or not, the laws of mathematics are
here to stay.
mathematician James Clerk Maxwell was the great genius of
Victorian theoretical physics. His equations uniting electricity and magnetism
enabled him to conclude light was electromagnetic radiation.
All later physics, including relativity and quantum mechanics,
flowed from those equations and that insight. All the electric and
electronic technology that has transformed our world traces its
theoretical ancestry to them.
I have spent the last week or so
reliving (yet again) the drama of his discoveries by reading my way
through a tolerably informal mathematical derivation of the
equations from first principles. The hard work of writing it all out
was accomplished with easy fluency and a light touch by Yale
professor Ramamurti Shankar over some 300 pages of the second volume
of his text
Fundamentals of Physics. The experience has been a joy for me.
Let no one say physics is dull. Take your time and it comes
alive. The saga of how we went from tinkering with a collection of
curious experimental results in electricity and magnetism to a deep
and satisfying theoretical account that led us inexorably to
transform basic mechanics from its Newtonian roots first to special
relativity and then to quantum mechanics is one of the greatest
tales of our era. It sure beats Wagnerian opera!
2017 July 17
Die sozialen Unterschiede in Großbritannien
sind eklatant. Dass diese Unterschiede existieren, bezweifelt in
Großbritannien kaum jemand. Selbst wenn man die Monarchie mit der
Queen an der Spitze außen vor lässt, zerfällt die britische
Gesellschaft in sieben Klassen, laut der 2013 BBC Great British
Fast die Hälfte der Bevölkerung werden in die
drei untersten Klassen einsortiert, allein 15% im Prekariat. Diese
Menschen haben ein durchschnittliches Jahreseinkommen von nur 8.000
Pfund, so gut wie keine Ersparnisse oder Grundbesitz und sind auch
sozial und kulturell benachteiligt.
Wer nach den Ursachen für
diese Armut und damit für die extremen Unterschiede in der
britischen Gesellschaft sucht, muss sich drei Faktoren vor Augen
1 In der britischen
Geschichte gab es keine bürgerliche Revolution.
2 Das britische Bildungssystem ist immer
Neoliberalismus der letzten 40 Jahre hat die Situation verschärft.
Die soziale Mobilität ist in Großbritannien besonders gering.
Als Voraussetzung für hohe soziale Mobilität gilt allgemein ein
Bildungssystem, das auch den Angehörigen der unteren Schichten gute
Chancen bietet. Doch in Großbritannien hängt es noch heute von der
Klassenzugehörigkeit ab, wer welche Schule besucht.
Überdurchschnittlich viele Angehörige der Eliten waren auf
angesehenen Hochschulen: 10 von 23 Kabinettsmitgliedern in Theresa
Mays neuer Regierung haben Abschlüsse von Oxford oder Cambridge, sie
selbst auch. Drei ihrer Minister kommen aus dem gleichen
Studiengang: PPE — Philosophy, Politics, and Economics an der
University of Oxford.
AR Auch ich
habe einen Oxford PPE-Abschluss — bin
aber kein Vertreter der Oberschicht.
Brexit — KBO?
Nicholas Soames MP, a former army
officer and an ardent Europhile, offers advice to the prime
minister: "Do not be defined by Brexit. Don't allow this to dominate
the whole of the government."
On Brexit: "We look like we're not the
country we were. I worry greatly. We don't have a skilled economy.
We are way behind on our technical training. This is a poorly
educated country, frankly .. I'm not optimistic for my country. I
don't see how we're ever going to project our influence and our
standing and our power outside the EU .. Britain's voice is going to
diminish, I'm afraid."
He quotes his grandfather Winston
Churchill — keep buggering on.
Trillion Dollar Turkey
The F-35 joint strike fighter was supposed to answer to all
western air defence needs for the early decades of this century. It
is turning into an object lesson in the pitfalls of procurement. If
the UK Ministry of Defence continues on its present course, it may
find the planes for its two new aircraft carriers are vulnerable to
hackers, unable to fly in full stealth mode, and even in some cases
too heavy to fly at all.
JSF development began in 1996, the aircraft still has numerous
flaws. These include poor acceleration through the sound barrier.
Test pilots find it underpowered in dogfights. Engineers find it unreliable even by stealth aircraft standards. For the UK, its
ability to offer updated information about enemy movements far
beyond the horizon is available in stealth mode only with the
purchase of additional kit.
The full cost of the 14 aircraft
delivered to Britain so far is likely to be closer to £150 million
each than the up to £100 million cited by Lockheed Martin. The MoD
has committed to buying 138 F-35s. The JSF program was meant to meet
a wide range of service needs at once, at minimum cost. A trillion
dollars later, the F-35 is a turkey. MoD officials say the project is
on time, on budget, and the best option for Britain!
Brexit — Chaotic Handling
Brexit is about the whole of the UK. It
will affect all UK citizens, and EU citizens in the UK. This is much
bigger than one political party's internal divisions or short term
electoral positioning. It's about people's lives.
The Brexit negotiations need to be conducted with
full transparency. I believe they should involve more people with
more diverse opinions. Some recognition that the election result
was, in part, a rejection of a hard Brexit would be welcome.
The handling of Brexit so far has been somewhat chaotic. Over a year
since the referendum we have only just started the negotiations.
This delay has not been good for the UK, or for the EU, or for
Maryam Mirzakhani said mathematics
research feels like writing a novel. "There are different
characters, and you are getting to know them better. Things evolve,
and then you look back at a character, and it's completely different
from your first impression."
graduate at Harvard, Mirzakhani was captivated by hyperbolic
geometry. On a hyperbolic surface with two or more holes, some
geodesics are infinitely long but others close into a loop. The
number of closed geodesics of a given length grows exponentially
with their length. Almost all of them cut across themselves many
times before closing up smoothly. Vanishingly few simple geodesics
never intersect themselves.
In her 2004 doctoral thesis,
Mirzakhani developed a formula for how the number of simple
geodesics of length L grows as L gets larger. She solved two other
major research questions along the way. Her thesis resulted in three
papers published in the three top mathematics journals.
2006, Mirzakhani began a collaboration with Alex Eskin. They tackled
a problem concerning the behavior of billiard balls bouncing around
polygonal tables. Zig-zag paths on a table can be mapped to straight
lines on a translation surface. Understanding the moduli space of
all translation surfaces is the key to understanding billiards.
In 2012 and 2013, Mirzakhani and Eskin proved a major set of
results about such translation surfaces. Their 172-page paper is the
beginning of a new era.
British Antarctic Survey
A trillion tons of ice broke off Antarctica
Macron treats Trump
to display of French
pomp in Paris
"Democracy is the theory that
the common people know what
want, and deserve to
get it good and hard."
Claude Shannon worked at
Bell Labs and published his
mathematical theory of
communication in 1948.
He saw that bits
Our best black hole
and Kip Thorne
Juno image recalls
Vincent van Gogh
"I am not
hearing any whistling,
just a clock ticking."
Die Union könne
2017 July 16
Maryam Mirzakhani (1977—2017) was an Iranian
mathematician and a professor at Stanford University. She won three
gold medals at the International Mathematical Olympiad in 1994 and
1995 and won the Field Medal in 2014.
Mirzakhani worked on the theory of moduli spaces of Riemann surfaces.
She discovered a formula expressing the volume of a moduli space
with a given genus as a polynomial in the number of boundary
components. She proved a theorem on closed
geodesics on a compact hyperbolic surface. With others, she proved
that complex geodesics and their closures in moduli space are
"Among other things, she studies billiards. But now, in a move very
characteristic of modern mathematics, it gets kind of meta: She
considers not just one billiard table, but the universe of all
possible billiard tables. And the kind of dynamics she studies
doesn't directly concern the motion of the billiards on the table,
but instead a transformation of the billiard table itself, which is
changing its shape in a rule-governed way; if you like, the table
itself moves like a strange planet around the universe of all
possible tables .. This isn't the kind of thing you do to win at
pool, but it's the kind of thing you do to win a Fields Medal."
Mirzakhani: "Of course, the most rewarding part is the 'aha'
moment, the excitement of discovery and enjoyment of understanding
something new — the feeling of being on top of a hill and having a
clear view. Most of the time, doing mathematics for me is like being
on a long hike with no trail and no end in sight."
Brexit — World Role
We must decide what role the UK is willing to
play in the questions that will define this century.
of Parliament must lead the debate about what sort of international
role the UK can play. Grand strategy cannot be made behind closed
doors. A new foreign policy vision can only be successful if there
is public consensus behind it.
Parliamentary committees can
be hubs for new thinking about the UK role on the global stage.
Brexit — Rough Ride
David Davis says Brexit makes landing on
the Moon look simple. Sir Jeremy Heywood says Brexit is the most
complex challenge the civil service has faced in our peacetime
history. Amyas Morse says UK preparations risk falling apart like a
Brexit was a complex challenge for a
government with a clear majority and a strong and stable leader. The
government now has to get detailed legislation through with a
slender majority that could evaporate at key moments. We are in for
a rough ride.
Brexit — Nuclear Calamity
project will demonstrate nuclear fusion power on a commercial
scale. It involves the European Union, US, Japan, South Korea,
China, Russia, and India. Fusion can operate alongside solar, wind,
and other renewables to power the world to a carbon-free future.
For decades, the UK has led the world in addressing this grand
challenge. The UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) operates the Joint
European Torus (JET) on behalf of Europe. In so doing, we have
acquired unique capabilities in critical areas for fusion.
29 March, the UK government declared an intention to leave Euratom
at the same time as leaving the EU. The existing Euratom R and D
program ends in 18 months. It is vital that we negotiate a solution
for a strong future relationship with Euratom.
2017 July 15
Humans have a shockingly high
mutation rate. Our survival as a species suggests we have a way of
dumping dangerous mutations.
It may seem that natural
selection acts on mutations one by one. But perhaps the fates of
mutations are linked in synergistic epistasis where having one
mutation can compound the effects of another. Thus an individual
with more mutations is not just additively but more like
exponentially worse off.
As the number of nasty genetic
errors in a population rises, natural selection will dump lots of
them out of the genome together. In sexual organisms, because
mutations from each parent can recombine randomly onto the same
chromosomes, the synergistic expulsion can work faster.
Synergistic epistasis has been acting on us and other organisms.
Fewer individuals than expected have large numbers of dangerous
mutations, suggesting that at the high end there is stronger
selection against such individuals. There is no shortage of
individuals with milder mutations.
shuffles parental genes together in new combinations. It is hard to
justify as an evolutionary strategy because a sexual organism passes
on only half of its genes. An asexually reproducing organism gets
double the benefit, none of the hassle. Yet sex continues.
Sex pays off if it gets rid of dangerous mutations. Perhaps it wipes
them out by shuffling them into freaks that fail to breed.
The UK is making a spectacular mess of
In an unnecessary referendum, a small majority chose
an option that had not been worked out. A new prime minister adopted
the hardest possible interpretation of the outcome and triggered
exit before shaping a negotiating position. Then, in an unnecessary
election, she lost both her majority and her authority.
Conservative party is so split over Brexit as to be no longer a
coherent party of government. Party Brextremists fail to understand
that with no deal the UK would default on its legal obligations to
EU members. Anyone who thinks those members would then cooperate
over vital British interests is dreaming.
The UK ship of
state is stuck between a rock and a hard race. Brextremists have
reduced British politics to a shambles. There is no exit from Brexit
and no easy way to a deal.
Britannia sinks off Dunkirk.
Britain is suffering from politics. If the
will of the British people remains as it was in June of last year,
then Brexit will happen. But we can change our will.
Macron victory changes Europe. The EZ will integrate economic
decision making. Europe will have an inner and outer circle. Reform
is on the agenda.
The British people want a strong
relationship with Europe. A majority oppose hard Brexit. As for
immigration, the French and Germans share British worries.
Brexit is the biggest British political decision since 1940. The
government program is dominated by Brexit. It has no bandwidth to do
Government Brexit policy has turned into hard
Brexit or no deal. The Conservative manifesto was typical tough Tory
policy on social care and school meals, plus fox hunting. The public
I propose a radical policy agenda. The NHS, schools
and skills, nurseries, welfare, and retirement all need fundamental
redesign. Communities and people left behind need to be helped,
infrastructure needs to be built anew, and we need affordable
Brexit is a massive distraction.
2017 Bastille Day
Take Back Control
The UK government has published its European Union (Withdrawal)
Bill. The bill incorporates accepted EU law into the English legal
system and repeals the 1972 European Communities Act.
government has awarded itself vastly excessive executive power. The
task of melding EU and UK law is very tangled. The first major
constitutional event under the new sovereignty will be ministers
exercising powers to amend legislation without parliamentary
Conservatives are meant to place wise
administration before madcap utopian schemes. Yet, gripped by the
colossally stupid notion that Britain as a member of the EU was not
a free nation, they regard any economic price as worth the invisible
benefit of sovereignty.
The politicians who got us into this
mess don't know what they're doing. Their view of the EU is too
ideologically narrow. The prime minister needs to take back control.
Confront The Chancers
The domestic political context of Brexit is
shifting. In Brussels, Michel Barnier leads an organized and
rational team of negotiators. In London, amateurs, blowhards, and
Theresa May continues to repeat her Brexit
mantras. She is getting on with the job, working to get a good deal,
always talking as if the outcome is certain. But she is trapped by
the growing realization that Brexit is heading to be an economic and
diplomatic disaster for Britain.
In Hamburg, Donald Trump
offered Britain a "very, very big" trade deal "very, very quickly"
but has no authority to deliver one. For the UK, the trade partners
that matter most are places like Germany, Benelux,
and France. Rational statecraft would seek to preserve that trade.
The EU is still being patient with Britain. May could be tempted
to appease the Brextremists to survive her party conference. She
must confront them.
No one knows how black holes work inside.
They must either destroy information at their central singularity —
no go in quantum theory — or surround themselves at the event
horizon with a firewall — no go in general relativity. So perhaps
the ones we think we see are actually boson stars.
such as protons and electrons, have half-integer spin.
They cannot occupy the same quantum state as one another, so
electrons arrange themselves in different energy states around an
atomic nucleus, explaining the periodic table in chemistry. Fermions
are identified by their unique quantum states and obey Fermi-Dirac
Bosons, such as photons, have integer spin and obey
Bose-Einstein statistics, so any number of them can pile into
the same quantum state — and lose their separate identities in doing
so. Bosons carry the forces by which fermions interact —
photons carry the electromagnetic force. A bosonic collective state
is known as a Bose-Einstein condensate.
When fermionic matter
forms a star, gravitational pressure heats it up enough to ignite
nuclear fusion and radiate light. By contrast, boson stars would
just form big toroidal lumps. They would be transparent and
invisible, given away only by their gravity. A compact boson star
would bend light around it, causing a lensing effect like a black
A boson star will attract mass, warm up, and
emit EM radiation. Spin 0 bosons could form stars. But photons have
spin 1, so no go. The Higgs boson has spin 0 but its mass is 125
GeV, so no go too. For bosons, the smaller their mass, the bigger
the stars they form. We're stuck.
I have added content to this cut to make it crunchier. A
massive boson star would be a black hole too, so I see no payoff — the problems inside are just as crass. And since a boson
star would attract fermions, it might well look much like any other
star. But what are these bosons? They aren't in the Standard Model.
2017 July 13
The Russian Connection
The New York Times
Rob Goldstone: "This is obviously very
high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its
government's support for Mr Trump."
Donald Trump Jr: "If it's
what you say I love it."
Trump Jr appears to be in real legal
jeopardy. Federal campaign finance law prohibits political campaigns
from soliciting anything of value from foreign nationals.
the Trump world, ethics is for suckers. Republicans in Congress are
maintaining their head-between-the-knees position as the Trump plane
America's First Family
The Trump administration is little more than
the Trump family plus some disposable retainers.
Jr solicited damaging information about Hillary Clinton from the
Kremlin. To Federal prosecutors, this is evidence of collusion with
a foreign power.
At the G20 summit, Trump spent 135 minutes
talking to Vladimir Putin. No one has a clue what they agreed. The
USA and Russia now belong on the same moral plane.
G20 meeting, Trump left the room and Ivanka Trump took his place at
the table between Xi Jinping and Theresa May. No other western
democracy operates like this.
As long as Trump is president,
the USA is vulnerable.
King Felipe VI of Spain, addressing an
audience of peers and MPs in the House of Lords as part of his state
visit to the UK, said the two countries had overcome differences in
"I am certain that this resolve to overcome our
differences will be even greater in the case of Gibraltar and I am
confident that through the necessary dialogue and effort our two
governments will be able to work towards arrangements that are
acceptable to all involved."
Bojo Defends Rock
The UK Foreign Office, headed by Boris
Johnson, defended the expulsion of a Spanish warship from the
disputed waters around Gibraltar. A Spanish patrol boat was told to
leave on Tuesday by a Royal Navy unit from the Gibraltar squadron.
Spain wants Gibraltar back and does not recognise the waters as
sovereign British overseas territory.
The status of Gibraltar
is part of the Brexit negotiations.
The European Project
Ann Mettler, Paweł Świeboda
The EU is delivering
economically. The EZ and broader EU recently recorded their highest
ever employment, investment is up, and growth is projected to be
twice as fast as US growth. Leaders have stood for reform in Europe.
A white paper on the
future of Europe published in March 2017 is being called the
birth certificate of the EU27. Europeans are ready to invest in the
common project. They realize that disintegration, illiberal
democracy, and populism are profoundly dangerous.
Europe can only prosper on the basis of the
vitality and legitimacy of the EU. Fundamental political choices must not be fudged or
decided behind closed doors. A wide debate is needed, engaging
citizens in new ways and making sure their voice matters.
European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker will lay out
additional initiatives in his next state of the union speech in
September. For the EU to pursue business as usual would be a
profound misreading of the public mood.
2017 July 12
Clash of Civilizations
Donald Trump: "The fundamental question of
our time is whether the West has the will to survive. Do we have the
confidence in our values to defend them at any cost? Do we have
enough respect for our citizens to protect our borders? Do we have
the desire and the courage to preserve our civilization in the face
of those who would subvert and destroy it?"
terrorism is a concern. But to judge it an overriding existential
threat is ludicrous. Nazism was an existential threat. So was Soviet
communism. Terrorism is just a nuisance.
We must beware the
self-fulfilling prophecy of a clash of civilizations, not just
because it is untrue, but because we have to cooperate. The ideal of
a global community reflects today's reality. Technology and economic
development have made humans masters of the planet and dependent
upon one another. Borders are arbitrary.
In a nuclear age,
war should be unthinkable. But that does not make it impossible.
Managing frictions among nuclear-armed powers is an inescapable
Global Nuclear Weapons
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
overall number of nuclear weapons in the world continues to
decline. But all of the nuclear-armed states are modernizing
their nuclear arsenals. They will not be prepared to give
them up for the foreseeable future.
At the start of
2017, nine states possessed about 4150 operationally
deployed nuclear weapons. If all nuclear warheads are
counted, these states together possessed a total of about 14 935 nuclear weapons.
Im Kern, erklärt Rüdiger Safranski, gehe
es in dem diskussionswürdigen Werk von Sieferle doch nicht darum,
Auschwitz zu leugnen, sondern mitzudenken, "dass dieses 20.
Jahrhundert so voll von den Großverbrechen war". Auf "einer
metaphysischen Deutungsebene" werde in Finis Germania dargelegt, wie
nach "der allgemeinen Überlieferung sich dann ein auserwähltes Volk
und das extrem Böse, das Deutsche gewissermaßen gegenüberstehen"
eine Gedankenfigur, die auch jüdische Denker schon formuliert
Finis Germania: Hitler sei es "für alle Zeiten"
gelungen, "den Deutschen und den Juden eine komplementäre
Sonderrolle" in der Welt zuzuweisen. Es gebe ein "positiv
auserwähltes Volk", nämlich die Juden, und ein "negativ auserwähltes
Volk", die Deutschen. Im Programm des antifaschistisch inspirierten
Multikulturalismus macht man sich nun Sieferle zufolge genau diese
Opposition zunutze, um "das indigene Volk der Industrieländer" zum
Gegner zu erklären und "dessen Widerstand gegen Immigration und
Überfremdung" zu brechen.
Kurz: Der Holocaust rottet die
Deutschen aus, denn die Antifaschismus-Keule sorgt heute dafür, dass
wir jeden Migranten ins Land lassen und somit untergehen.
AR Deutschland ist in Europa integriert
— am besten so können die Deutschen sich aus dieser
Britain Memorial Flight turns 60: A legitimate piece of living
history is mutating slowly into a focus for celebrating
exceptionalism that borders on pathological jingoism — Britain
punches above its weight on the global stage etc.
"The more strain on its ends,
the tighter it becomes"
Reception with Poole
and a Jackson
2017 July 11
Apple v Google
Mihir A. Desai
Apple and Google parent company Alphabet
are the two most valuable companies in the world, with a combined
market capitalization of over $1.3 trillion.
Apple and Google
have taken completely different approaches to their shareholders and
to the future, one driven by investors and the other by founders and
Apple faced pressure to redistribute its cash
pile of almost $100 billion by the end of 2011 to shareholders. Most
of the cash was in Ireland, and it would incur big US taxes upon
repatriation. So from 2013 to March 2017, Apple released $200
billion via dividends and buybacks, and took on $99 billion in
Google founders maintained voting control
over the company. But by 2012, as the founders sold stock and
employees were issued shares in their compensation packages, Google
gave founder shares 10 times the voting power of regular shares.
From 2013 to March 2017, Google generated $114 billion in cash flow
but only distributed $7 billion to shareholders.
On how to
spend the profits, the interests of managers and investors can
diverge. Apple lets investors dominate, which checks managers who
might pursue goals that enrich themselves. Google lets managers
decide, since big investors who also act for other shareholders may
not serve the real interests of the company.
No one knows
which is the better strategy.
Brexit and National Humiliation
Brexit Britain appears to face a choice
between three different types of humiliation:
1 Britain becomes so desperate for a
trade deal that it accepts all the EU terms, including a bill of up
to €100 billion, the free movement of people, and the jurisdiction
of the ECJ.
2 Britain refuses,
crashes out of the EU without a deal, bets on the promised "very,
very big" trade deal with Trump's America, and makes "global
Britain" look like a sick joke.
Britain accepts that there is no good Brexit and abandons the whole
idea. Even to secure a return to the EU, Britain might have to give
up its cherished budget rebate.
Each of these results will
cause dismay and anger in Britain. Eurocrats may find a Britain
humbled by Brexit easier in the long run. Postwar Germany shows
being humbled can be good for the soul.
2017 July 10
China has always attached great importance to
Germany is a competitive exporter and manufacturer,
and thus an ideal model for China. Its social welfare and market
system have been widely debated in China. For decades, Germany has
had a big market share in China.
President Xi Jinping is
likely to discuss with German leaders how to further boost bilateral
ties and become bigger players in each other's markets by removing
trade and investment barriers.
Globalization faces increasing
challenges, especially with the UK departure from the EU and US
policy to make America Great Again, which is nothing but trade
protectionism. US President Trump has also pulled the United States
out of the global climate change agreement.
free trade and closer global connectivity, and remains committed to
fighting climate change.
For China, Germany is the way into the
A Postmodern Power
As a top exporter embedded in the Eurasian
continent, Germany is heavily invested in globalization.
Environmental, trade, and regulatory disruptions hurt it more than
most. Its defences are geopolitical alliances, diplomatic
compromises, and a dense web of links.
Angela Merkel has
moved closer to China in response to the US political turn, but has
kept her options open. She is constructively ambiguous. But she can
move fast and hard — flipping positions on nuclear power in 2011, on
refugees in 2015, and last month on EU treaty change in support of
Germany makes no pretence of
self-sufficiency. It accepts its own vulnerability, its own lack of
a reliable protector, its own inextricability from mutually
compromising alliances and sub-alliances. Ulrich Speck calls Germany
a postmodern power.
In the European Parliament we accept that
the Brexit decision was a democratic choice. We are not convinced
Brexit would be a positive development for European citizens. The UK
proposal fails to put citizens first and would cast a dark cloud
over the lives of millions of Europeans.
Michel Barnier wants
British people and Europeans to keep the same rights and the same
level of protection they currently enjoy under European law. All
rights acquired before the date of withdrawal will be directly
enforceable, with lifelong protection, full reciprocity and equal
treatment. A majority of the British people want to keep their EU
The UK response proposes that Europeans would
have fewer rights than British citizens are offered throughout the
EU. Europeans will not only lose their right to vote in local
elections, but family members will be subject to minimum income
requirements, and each family member, including children, will have
to make separate applications for settled status. Those who do not
meet the five-year residence requirement by the end of the grace
period will have to make one application to stay and another one for
The real cause for concern lies in the
continuing uncertainty. British courts apply the laws adopted by
British politicians. British and European citizens should be able to
enforce their rights under a mechanism in which the ECJ plays a full
Brexit negotiations must be completed by 30 March 2019.
Any extension would require the UK to hold European elections in May
2019. That is unthinkable.
A Better Way
Theresa May pledges to be more open and conciliatory and calls
on opponents to work together to shape a better way forward for
Britain after Brexit. She appeals to Labour and other parties to
come forward with their ideas for policy.
AR Internally, the only conceivable way
for the UK to make a success of Brexit is with cross-party
agreement. Externally, the only way is with EU good will.
Altogether, a better way to ensure UK success is to give up the
whole stupid idea.
2017 July 9
G20 Leaders' Declaration
G20 Germany 2017
Mastering the challenges of our age and shaping an
interconnected world is the common goal of the G20 as our premier
forum for international economic cooperation.
and technological change have contributed significantly to driving
economic growth and raising living standards across the globe.
However, globalisation has created challenges and its benefits have
not been shared widely enough. By bringing together developed and
emerging market economies, the G20 is determined to shape
globalisation to benefit all people.
We are resolved to
tackle common challenges to the global community, including
terrorism, displacement, poverty, hunger and health threats, job
creation, climate change, energy security, and inequality including
gender inequality, as a basis for sustainable development and
stability. We decide today to take concrete actions to advance the
three aims of building resilience, improving sustainability and
We take note of the decision of the
United States of America to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. The
Leaders of the other G20 members state that the Paris Agreement is
irreversible. We reaffirm our strong commitment to the Paris
Agreement, moving swiftly towards its full implementation in
accordance with the principle of common but differentiated
responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the light of
different national circumstances.
I have zoomed on a hot topic, naturally.
German historian Rolf Peter Sieferle
took his own life last September at age 67. Last month, a posthumous
collection of his observations on German political culture,
Finis Germania, hit #9 on the Nonfiction Book of the Month list
and #1 on the Amazon German bestseller list.
and resents the tragic course of German history: "If Germany belongs
to the most progressive, civilized, cultivated countries, then
Auschwitz means that at any moment the human progress of modernity
can go into reverse."
Sieferle is critical of the postwar
culture of Holocaust memory, which he argues has taken on the traits
of a religion. Hitler bound Germans and Jews together in a narrative
for all time. Germans appear in this narrative as the absolute
enemies of our common humanity, as a scapegoat people.
Sieferle sees Germans as the new Jews. Christians had cast Jews as
either indifferent to or responsible for the crucifixion. Today,
German identity symbolizes a similar rejection of some kind of
revelation. Sieferle: "Today, the Jews, to whom God himself had
promised eternity, build memorials throughout the world to their
murdered coreligionists. Not only are the victims ascribed a moral
superiority, the wrongdoers and their symbols are ascribed an
Sieferle thought all this had left
Germans unable to say anything but yes to a million or so migrants
seeking entry to Europe in 2015. He thought such a welcome was
unsustainable. His argument can sound thoroughly offensive.
AR I must read this tract.
2017 July 8
UN Treaty Bans Nuclear Weapons
Countries meeting at a UN conference
adopted the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
Statement from France, UK, US
France, the United Kingdom,
and the United States have not taken part in the negotiation of the
treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons. We do not intend to
sign, ratify or ever become party to it. Therefore, there will be no
change in the legal obligations on our countries with respect to
Putin v Trump
Vladimir Putin should not have had the upper
The Russian agenda
was to publicly mend the relationship, to gain a better
understanding of US policy, and to discuss joint concerns over
terrorism. They scored on all three.
intelligence agencies, Republicans and Democrats in Congress, and
many others are confident that the Russians intervened in the
American election last year. But a simple assurance from President
Putin overrides that. For the Russians, the public case is closed.
Fight Like the Poles
Sarah Palin tweet:
Trump Gives Speech to the
People of Poland, Says 14 Words That Leave Americans Stunned
Young Conservatives CEO Josh
This is the 14-word quote the social media post is
Let us all fight like the Poles. For family, freedom,
for country, for God.
AR Here is
an immortal episode from European history the Young Conservatives
In 1683, an Ottoman army of between one and two
hundred thousand men led by Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa Pasha advanced
on Vienna and besieged the city for two months, but was then
defeated by the combined forces of the Holy Roman Empire and the
Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The death blow for the Ottomans came
when some twenty thousand cavalrymen — reputedly the largest cavalry
charge in history, led by King Jan III of Poland at the head of
three thousand "winged hussars" — charged down a hill and broke the
Ottoman lines. In less than three hours, the Christians had won.
Vienna was saved. After the battle, King Jan paraphrased Julius
Caesar by saying Venimus, Vidimus, Deus vincit (we came, we saw, God
conquered). The Christians pressed home their victory and forced the
Ottomans to give up large territories in Europe.
book Coral, p. 116)
2017 July 7
Physics in a Nutshell
"I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of
infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams."
Quantum Field Theory in a Nutshell
Quantum field theory
remains the true theory of everything. All of physics can now be
said to be derivable from field theory. To start with, quantum field
theory contains quantum mechanics as a (0 + 1)‑dimensional field
theory, and to end (perhaps) with, string theory may be formulated
as a (1 + 1)‑dimensional field theory. Quantum field theory can
arguably be regarded as the pinnacle of human thought.
Einstein Gravity in a Nutshell
Einstein gravity has in
time become a model for theoretical physics. It remains to be seen
how fruitful this approach will prove to be, but there is no denying
its appeal for theoretical physicists. Latch onto a well-established
but not understood physical fact, start with an attractive
mathematical framework, get the whole enchilada in one fell swoop,
and enjoy a dramatic, almost immediate, confirmation. When this
approach works, as it did for Einstein, it's fabulous, no question.
Group Theory in a Nutshell for Physicists
Group theory is
much more than a temptress: it is our indispensable guide to a
fundamental understanding of the universe. The Lorentz group
determines for us how the fundamental fields should comport
themselves in spacetime. Eventually, group theory, together with
quantum field theory, shows us how three of the four fundamental
interactions can be unified. And thus we arrive at the threshold of
our understanding of the universe.
Great — were it not for the bad dreams of Brexit, nuclear
war, climate change ..
An image of
order in a city become an anarchist battlefield
G20 is the central forum for
international cooperation on
financial and economic issues.
G20 accounts for more than
of GWP, 75% of global
trade, and some 65% of
"The Liberal Democrats
do not want to go down the coalition road
again. I have
the metaphor of mating with
a praying mantis — you get
eaten at the end of it."
Presidents Trump and Duda
Warsaw on Thursday
Foreign Funded Islamist
Extremism in the UK
The Henry Jackson
US Forces Korea response
"My gift to American bastards!"
"Hard Brexit means
people fleeing UK"
AR Me 4 1
A photographic stroll along
the prom from Canford Cliffs
to Bournemouth Pier
60% of Brits want to remain
EU citizens after Brexit
2017 July 6
Glyndebourne Festival 2017
An opera in two acts by Brett
Dean, based on the play by William Shakespeare
AR A bold and vivid production with an
audaciously Wagnerian intensity
EU Red Lines
We must face the facts. In a classic
negotiation 'no deal' means a return to the status quo. In the case
of Brexit, 'no deal' is a return to a distant past.
heard some people in the UK argue that one can leave the single
market and build a customs union to achieve frictionless trade —
that is not possible.
1 The free
movement of persons, goods, services, and capital are indivisible.
We cannot let the single market unravel.
2 There can by no sector by sector
participation in the single market.
The EU must maintain full sovereignty for deciding regulations.
These three points were already made clear by the European
Council and by the European Parliament. But I am not sure whether
they have been fully understood across the Channel.
AR The UK government got it wrong. It
was clear to me from the start.
Vote Leave Doubts
As the reality of Brexit comes ever
closer, remainers concede that the only way it can be halted is if
British public opinion has a change of heart, collectively
repudiating their 2016 vote.
Vote Leave director Dominic
Cummings was behind the "£350 million for the NHS" slogan on the
side of the battlebus. He says that unless MPs force management
changes on both Downing Street and Dexeu, the Brexit negotiations
will be a guaranteed debacle. For Brexit to work, there has to be
wholesale reform of Whitehall, British education, science, and
productivity. He had already described Brexit as "the hardest job
since beating Nazis" and said it was being handled incompetently.
There will be more in this vein as the consequences of Brexit
become more real. As people see the scale of the upheaval, there
will be more people who admit they got it wrong.
AR Stuck as I am in the middle of this
horror, I can only hope good sense finally prevails.
Poland is an economic star. Since 1991, its
economy has grown at an average annual rate of 4%. Its average income has risen to near $13,000, from $2,300.
Poland set out to distance itself from Russia, and adopted the
financial discipline and institutional reforms required to join the
Warsaw is the conservative opposite of
decadent Moscow. Its tycoons embrace entrepreneurship with an
enthusiasm rarely found in Europe, making Poland a natural
US ally. Poland is already one of the few NATO members meeting its
commitment to spend at least 2% of GDP on defense.
Europe is rising, with small nations like the Czech Republic leading
and Poland close behind. With a population of nearly
40 million and a half-trillion-dollar economy, Poland is working its
way up as a manufacturing power. Exports from manufacturing account
for a third of GDP in Poland.
The Polish deficit and public
debt remain manageable, the currency remains stable, exports
continue to boom, and the trade balance is in surplus. Poland,
rising through manufacturing, is likely to be the next rich nation.
AR Poland's performance since 1991
outshines that of the UK.
Science communicators explain scientific
theory and practice to a general audience. As the sector has
expanded in recent years, the focus has become public engagement. A
British Science Association survey shows 20% of science
communicators in the UK work mainly as freelancers.
UK says funding bodies want to embed public engagement in
research. A University of Bristol national coordinating center for
public engagement (NCCPE)
provides funding for specific projects and says all research
programs must include public communication.
AR There is surely good work for me to
do in this sector.
2017 July 5
Korean War Plans
The United States has no viable military
option to destroy the NK nuclear program. Even a limited US strike
risks staggering casualties, because NK could retaliate with
thousands of artillery pieces aimed at SK. A strike would likely
fail to wipe out the NK arsenal. NK says it would immediately
retaliate with nuclear missiles.
Let China make the heavy move.
"Crush the Fuckers"
Theresa May has been reduced to dealing
with the DUP to secure a fragile Commons majority. Cabinet ministers
are breaking ranks on Brexit and the economy. A minister: "There is
no plan, no strategy, no direction."
In October, the
Conservative party conference in Manchester will showcase a party
torn over Brexit. A pro-EU MP on his Brextremist colleagues: "We can
work with half the Labour party and crush the fuckers."
AR Worse things have happened in
German chancellor Angela Merkel looks
set to be re-elected. Her main political opposition is trailing in
polls and the far right appears to have peaked.
ambassador to the US Peter Wittig: "We have an extremely good
economic run: record low unemployment, record low youth unemployment
.. pretty good social security system, less people that feel left
behind, less losers of globalization, not a dramatic inequality. So
there's a strong social tissue and that has helped us."
Nearly 70% of German voters favors EU membership. Wittig: "We have
benefited from Europe. We don't have this anti-Brussels discourse."
AR Germany is the cradle of European
With fossils and DNA, scientists are piecing
together a picture of human origins. The expert consensus is that
Homo sapiens evolved at least 300,000 years ago in Africa. Johannes
Krause and his colleagues report that Africans first walked out over
270,000 years ago and made their way to Europe.
AR Now the Africans are doing it again.
When Donald Trump travels to Europe, his
hosts can only hope he will not sabotage the western alliance.
Theresa May will be challenged to overcome damage already done by
the diplomatic vandalism of Brexit. The decision to quit the EU and
the Trump election are terrible twins.
everything May says in a miasma of unreliability. Her ambitions for
the UK will mean nothing before the terms of departure from the EU
are settled. She will find no queue of leaders eager to ingratiate
themselves with a country on the threshold of magnificent
Brexit did not beget Trump, but there is a
genetic link. The EU referendum demonstrated the insurgent potential
of a campaign that mobilized economic and cultural grievance against
a remote political elite. Trump called himself "Mr Brexit" and cast
Nigel Farage as his supporting act.
Many Europeans saw the
electoral shocks of 2016 as cautionary tales, not inspiring
parables. Neither the EU referendum nor US presidential election now
seems like a giant moment for geopolitics. The West has been doubly
AR Tragic —
Untergang des Abendlandes
2017 Independence Day
North Korea claims to have conducted its first
successful test of a long-range missile that it says can reach
anywhere in the world. The Hwasong-14 IRBM reached a height of 2,800
km during a flight of 37 minutes over a horizontal distance of 930
km. The regime appears to have timed the launch for maximum
political effect on the eve of the July 4 holiday.
Korea has just launched another missile. Does this guy have anything
better to do with his life?" Donald Trump tweeted, referring to Kim
Jong Un. "Hard to believe that South Korea and Japan will put up
with this much longer. Perhaps China will put a heavy move on North
Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!"
Ministry of Foreign Affairs: "The situation on the Korean Peninsula
is sensitive and complex. We hope all relevant parties will exercise
restraint and avoid taking actions that may escalate tensions."
AR This looks ominously like Korean
The UK voted for the biggest international
dislocation in its postwar history but has no discernible strategy.
It is inconceivable that a deal can be negotiated by March 2019.
There are three broad scenarios for the post-Brexit economic
1 The UK stays in,
or close to, the EU single market, perhaps via the EEA.
2 The UK leaves the single market but
remains in a full or partial customs union.
The UK seeks the best preferential partnership it can get as a third
None of these outcomes matches the economic benefits
of EU membership.
Mark H. Kim
In February 2016, the leaders of the Laser
Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) announced that
they had successfully detected gravitational waves.
A team of
independent physicists led by Andrew Jackson has checked the data
and found correlations that should not be there. They say the
correlations could call the entire discovery into question.
LIGO scientific collaboration member Ian Harry published a rebuttal
of their criticism. Harry says the Jackson team missed some
subtleties in their data analysis, and that he could not reproduce
their claimed correlations.
Gravitational waves are
exceedingly faint, so LIGO can measure a change in distance of 100
zm. LIGO uses two observatories, 3 Mm apart to duplicate the
observations. The noise at each detector should be uncorrelated, but
a gravitational wave should create a nearly simultaneous signal in
Jackson claims there appears to be
correlated noise in the detectors at the time of the gravitational
wave signal. At worst, the signal might have been louder noise.
Harry says the Jackson team could have misused the Fourier
transform, which requires that the input data signal be cyclical. A
non-cyclical signal would introduce subtle errors.
confidence is high in the LIGO conclusions. The LIGO team have since
found gravitational waves from two further black hole mergers.
AR Science at its best — always
critical, always cautious.
Popular books on physics and physics textbooks
present different challenges. I enjoy writing textbooks a bit more
because the aim is to transmit enjoyment and knowledge to a new
generation of physicists, just as that enjoyment and knowledge have
been transmitted to me. That, in essence, is what physics is all
I am excited by the prospects of learning more about
the dark world of energy and matter, and of experimentalists coming
up with clever new approaches. I am struggling to finish a short
popular book on Einstein gravity.
I am just embarking on climbing the mountain of Zee's
Nutshell trilogy. For me it will be a tough but hopefully also
2017 July 3
Two new genetic technologies have started a
scientific and medical revolution. One is the ability to easily
decode the information in our genes. The other is our newfound
capacity to modify or edit the DNA sequences of humans and other
The genomes of microbes contain regular DNA
sequences called CRISPR — clustered regularly interspersed short
palindromic repeats. The bits of DNA found in the spaces between the
repeats had come from viruses and had been integrated into the
The CRISPR sequences activate a series of
proteins known as CRISPR-associated proteins that can unravel and
attack DNA. The CRISPR sequence and one such protein act together as
a kind of immune system for microbes.
proteins can be used to alter any DNA to achieve a desired sequence.
If you know a DNA sequence from a given organism, you can chop it
up, delete it, and change it at will, much like using a
word-processing program on texts.
Gene drives are artificial
bits of DNA that rapidly spread through the population. When a gene
drive is used, the frequency of the altered gene increases
exponentially with each generation, rapidly flooding the whole
population. A gene drive is essentially a biological bomb.
2017 July 2
National Rifle Association of America
use their media to assassinate real news. They use their schools to
teach children that their president is another Hitler. They use
their movie stars and singers and comedy shows and award shows to
repeat their narrative over and over again ...
All to make
them march. Make them protest. Make them scream racism and sexism
and xenophobia and homophobia. To smash windows, burn cars, shut
down interstates and airports, bully and terrorize the law-abiding
The only way we stop this, the only way we save our
country and our freedom, is to fight this violence of lies with the
clenched fist of truth.
Grace Under Fire
The New York Times
Donald Trump lacks the
grace under fire that Richard Nixon showed in public. At the height
of Watergate in late 1973, Nixon blurted at a news conference: "I
have never heard or seen such outrageous, vicious, distorted
reporting in 27 years of public life. I am not blaming anybody for
that. Perhaps what happened is that what we did brought it about."
Jeremy Corbyn addressed
thousands on Saturday at an anti-Tory rally in London organized by
the People's Assembly Against Austerity.
Jez: "This is the
movement that will win the next election."
Been There, Done That
Something momentous happened in Britain's relations
with Europe. About a year later, Britain has a minority government
cutting deals to try to get its legislation
through the House of Commons. A wooden Tory prime minister,
confident of a landslide victory in an election called in the
national interest and on the question of whom voters trust to run
the country in challenging times, ends up with egg on face. Britain
enters a period of profound political instability.
The prime minister was Ted Heath, the year was 1974. The UK joined
the EEC in 1973 and a large majority of Brits voted in the 1975
referendum to stay in it.
Times change: The EEC is now the EU and the UK looks like FUK.
A Green Brexit
I want to ensure that we have
a green Brexit: a Brexit which ensures that we develop policies on
the environment and animal welfare which we would not have been able
to do in the EU.
One of the things I want to do is see how we
can better support investment in environmental goods rather than
simply rewarding people for the number of hectares they have. If
you've got a sum of money that large, it shouldn't be devoted to
maintaining certain landowners in the style to which they have
AR Gove was on
the Andrew Marr show this morning.
Marr: "Is no
deal better than a bad deal?"
The inflationary multiverse might be the
same as the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics if the
formation of new bubble universes is simply an example of
quantum-mechanical branching as viewed by a single hypothetical
observer: a new bubble forming is equivalent to obtaining an outcome
of a measurement. This picture solves the theory's predictability
problem because the infinitely many bubble universes in this case
coexist probabilistically rather than in one real space. In this
conception, the observer in an inflationary multiverse can make
predictions based on the probability of any event occurring.
AR This is good — it makes everything
finite. Our Hubble bubble contains some 10^123 Planck grains of
action, so even with some combinatorial jiggery-pokery the state
space can be finite. And the principle of stationary action implies
that broad outcomes are predictable even when individual state
reductions are random on our timeline. So forget the infinite cosmic
bubble bath Max Tegmark and Sean Carroll expected and forget the
Everett nightmare of branching off into crazy worlds — we live on
a timeline where all those crazy action paths cancel in the Feynman
path integrals and everything is finite. Let's hope Nomura is right.
2017 July 1
World War II
In 1940, as France was collapsing under the
German onslaught and the Dunkirk evacuation was under way, Winston
Churchill decided to fight on, alone if necessary. He was the
British bulldog, an incarnation of strength, courage, and tenacity.
In the austere aftermath of the war,
its grim experiences were replayed in countless movies. They all
assumed it was fought for a just cause. Shocking newsreel pictures
of the liberation of Belsen consecrated it as a triumphant crusade
War films helped to sustain pride in British
greatness as the exhausted country tried to win the peace while
beset by grievous new troubles. In 1945 Britain was virtually
bankrupt, facing what John Maynard Keynes called an economic
Churchill's ghost haunts the bronze bust that Donald
Trump restored to the Oval Office. Boris Johnson assures us that
national salvation is to be found in standing alone. A fresh crop of
war films reminds us of lost British greatness.
Free LSD For All!
If I ruled the world, I would step down and
go back to theoretical physics. First I would:
Abolish borders and armies
● Abolish private property
● Abolish such documents as passports
● Abolish religion
● Abolish tribal behavior
And I would
make free LSD available for all adolescents willing to explore new
AR Oh Carlo, your
book on quantum
gravity is lovely but this lot is utopian (except for the LSD
idea, which is cute).
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona
Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) High Resolution Imaging Science
Experiment (HiRISE) image of a small impact crater
on the sloping
wall of a larger crater. North is up, the slope is down westward, and the area shown is about 250 m
FUK v EUSSR
Theresa May told the EU she
cannot control her
So EU delegates are visiting
UK ministries to thrash out a
unified British position on
which the EU can talk.
EU lead Brexit
Michel Barnier: "This is a crisis
on Europe's doorstep. The EU
has no choice but to intervene,
if only for humanitarian
Die Konzentration von
Dichlormethan in der
Atmosphäre steigt an.
Der Chloranteil kann
HMS Queen Elizabeth
His AdS/CFT duality links
anti-de Sitter spacetime to conformal
field theory on its
boundary — the holographic
ER = EPR claim
links spacetime wormholes
to quantum entanglements
British schoolboy heat
Looks good — apart from
those stupid neckties
Because she was not
to express her own view
Mrs Windsor chose to
to get her message
Her Speech heralds Brexit,
her hat says otherwise
2017 June 30
US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross says
Germany must buy raw materials from the United States instead of
from Russia, lower tariffs on automobile imports from US
manufacturers, and make sure American cars "obtain a larger share"
of the European market.
Donald Trump could turn the G20
summit into a fiasco. His America First administration is sabotaging
the search for joint positions among the G20 economies by seeing the
world not as a global community but as an arena in which dog eats
Transatlantic trade conflicts are multiplying.
Washington views the EU fine levied against Google as a hostile act,
and might back out of the joint fight against tax havens and tax
dumping and for the joint regulation of financial markets and banks.
European G20 participants will form a common front against
AR UK too?
A Lot of Bother
An enduring myth among the elites of
Westminster is that the argument over Brexit is won or lost by
polemic and emotion. The British public were asked to vote in the
referendum, so felt duty bound to do so. Some now say they would
vote the other way.
More and more people are bewildered at
the complexity of it all and frustrated at the incompetence on show.
Voters were promised a quick and easy Brexit. There is only so much
squabbling between members of the Cabinet that people will put up
People who knew it would be complex said Brexit would
be as simple as flipping a switch. They told us that the EU needs us
more than we need them, so we can just walk out overnight. They
refused to listen to others who knew what they were talking about.
David Davis says Brexit makes the NASA Moon shot look quite
simple. People were promised a walk in the park to Brexit, not a
death defying Moon landing. That is certainly a whole lot of bother
beyond what most voters expect or want.
AR Clegg went to a lot of bother to prop up the Conservatives
back in 2010 and and in return was left for dead in 2015 by the rapacious scoundrels of the hard
2017 June 29
Possibly coming soon — another UK general
Boris "Bojo" Johnson fights Jeremy "Jez" Corbyn for the
title of next prime minister:
recalls the days when Britain ruled the waves
— speaks for
continuing Anglophone supremacy
— continues to insist Britain can
have its cake and eat it
— has always had a strained relationship
with the truth
— has ambition undimmed by a woeful performance at
the Foreign Office
— recalls the
revolutionary socialism of his youth
— sees the EU as a
— casts himself the honest politician in a
sea of cynicism
— has policies that may be barmy but are
— may have lost the last election but won what pundits
More than a year after the referendum, there is still no plan
Just Bojo versus Jez.
Brexit Battlebus — Dangerous Driver
Brexit secretary David Davis says sunny uplands lie ahead. An EU
deal by March 2019 will give us almost all the trading benefits we
currently enjoy and will quickly leave us free to sign trade
agreements with the rest of the world. But EU officials say leaving
the EU means the UK will trade on worse terms than now.
has sublime confidence. Those who have worked with him say he hates
to listen to advice, has delusions of grandeur, is vain and
quixotic, and is all noise and bluster. Apparently he has no
practical sense of the realities he is about to confront and prefers
assertion to getting to grips with inconvenient facts.
department, Dexeu, is finding it hard to recruit and keep staff. It
has issued no details on how new arrangements for customs,
immigration, or the Irish border would work. Industry
representatives who visited Dexeu were left aghast at its approach
and were fobbed off with vague assurances that it would all be fine.
Davis is said to have learned more realism than Liam Fox and
Boris Johnson, but he has no interest in evidence that does not suit
him. As the UK chief negotiator, he needs a shrewd grasp of British
strategic needs and relative weakness. His role is not to grandstand
or cheerlead, but to be a tactful and wily realist.
Tory peer and Brexiteer: "I am frankly scared. I'd be surprised if
it all went right now."
2017 June 28
The European Commission, under direction
from EU27 leaders, wants the rights of the 3 million EU citizens
living in the UK and of the British diaspora in the EU guaranteed by
the European Court of Justice. They want to secure the status of
those citizens against the whims of a simple majority vote in the UK
The UK is one of the few countries in
the EU where political elites can dismiss checks on legislative
power by saying: "Well, what's the worst that could happen?" For the
leaders of most EU27 states, a guarantee not backed up by the
European Court of Justice is no guarantee at all.
Brextremists are concerned about sovereignty. Remaining subject to
the rule of the ECJ without being able to set its parameters
represents a significant loss of sovereignty. So Brexit minister
David Davis concedes that there will have to be an international
guarantor for any trade deal.
A new EU-UK international body
would satisfy the letter of Theresa May's ECJ red line. On the EU27
side, the body would take its lead from ECJ and hence effectively
subject the UK to the ECJ. You cannot satisfy both popular demand
for hard borders and political demand for sovereignty at once.
AR A sovereign UK would have no
brake to hinder a strong leader with a big parliamentary majority
from ruling effectively by fiat, for example to expel foreigners.
This constitutional deficit would represent a European fire risk.
2017 June 27
EU competition commissioner Margrethe
Vestager: "Google's strategy for its comparison shopping service
wasn't just about attracting customers by making its product better
than those of its rivals. Instead, Google abused its market
dominance as a search engine by promoting its own comparison
shopping service in its search results and demoting those of
competitors. What Google has done is illegal under EU antitrust
AR Google will see
the €2.4 billion fine as
a tax bill.
The New York Times
President Trump is siding with Sunni
Saudi Arabia and demonizing Shiite Iran.
In Syria, Iran and
the United States share a common goal of defeating Daesh. But US officials fear the Iranians will seek control of
enough territory in Syria and Iraq to establish a land bridge from
Tehran to Lebanon. There they could resupply their Hezbollah allies.
Daesh is close to being routed from its headquarters in the city
of Raqqa. But the prospect of victory has opened the door to new
tensions between US and Iranian forces. US officials suspect that
Iran is more interested in controlling territory in these areas than
Russia threatened to retaliate to recent US
"self defense" moves by treating US warplanes as targets. Despite
this, administration officials seem to consider Iran a bigger
problem than Moscow.
Demonizing Iran could broaden the US
military mission in the region.
Theresa May locks in parliamentary majority
with £1 billion in promises to the DUP of Northern Ireland. The deal
buys two years of support for her government.
AR That's an extra fiver a
week per citizen in Northern Ireland.
2017 June 26
US Military Power
President Donald Trump has overseen a
transfer of power from the White House to the Pentagon.
Afghanistan, Trump has empowered defense secretary James Mattis to
set troop levels. In Yemen and Somalia, Trump has given US
commanders more freedom to launch raids and airstrikes without his
OK. In Iraq and Syria, he has also granted the Pentagon more freedom
to manage troop levels.
Trump administration officials
describe the changes as a deliberate effort to empower the military.
Much of the top brass described the Obama administration oversight
of military campaigns as micromanagement that needlessly hamstrung
Retired General John Allen backs letting the
military carry out missions more effectively and maintain the
momentum against the enemy: "Many of these targets are very
perishable. Every time I or other commanders had to come back to
Washington for permissions, everything slowed down."
Bannon: "The president believes the best thing to do is to let the
warfighters fight the war."
2017 June 25
Weak Gravity and Cosmic Censorship
Singularities are snags in spacetime
where general relativity breaks down and a quantum theory is needed.
Naked singularities have now been shown not to exist in a toy 4D
universe with an anti-de Sitter (AdS) spacetime geometry.
weak gravity conjecture (WGC) is that gravity must always be the
weakest force in any viable universe. Jorge Santos and Toby Crisford
found that if another force in the toy universe is stronger than
gravity, the singularity is censored by a black hole. It seems the
cosmic censorship conjecture (CCC) is saved just where gravity
becomes the weakest force.
It was thought that naked
singularities can exist in a 4D AdS universe with a bounded
spacetime — inside a tin can, say. But imagine an electromagnetic
(EM) field and a gravitational field coexisting in the can. Cranking
up the energy of the EM field on the surface of the can will cause
spacetime to curve more sharply inside it, to form a naked
Cumrun Vafa was working to rule out large swaths
of the 10^500 different possible universes that string theory
naively allows. He did this by identifying swamplands where
universes were too absurd to exist, and proposed the WGC as a
swamplands test. Universes seem to fail unless gravity is weaker
than the other forces, so the WGC swamps huge regions of the string
Vafa saw a link between the WGC and CCC. When
Santos and Crisford cranked up the strength of the EM field on the
surface of their can, they originally assumed that the interior was
classical, with no quantum fluctuations. But if singular particles
are more strongly coupled to the EM field than to gravity, as per
the WGC, then cranking up the EM field adds enough energy to trigger
collapse of singularities to black holes, as per the CCC.
Perhaps WGC iff CCC.
Jez We Can!
Glastonbury ravers burst out in Corbynmania when Jeremy Corbyn
arrived in a Somerset field to find hordes of young women with
"Jezza" and "I love Jez" written on their foreheads in glitter.
Corbyn, 68, was the first leading politician to appear at
Glastonbury since the festival began 47 years ago — and no one was
complaining that Theresa May had not shown up.
in chants of "Oh Je-rem-y Cor-byn" and "Jez we can" as he waved his
little red book (the Labour manifesto) and attacked the elites who
had got it wrong.
Spreadsheet Phil For PM!
Philip Hammond could replace Theresa May as UK prime minister in
a temporary alliance with Brexit minister David Davis. Ministers say Hammond should be anointed as leader before October
provided he vows to stand down as Conservative leader before the
A minister: "I think Philip is the only
plausible candidate for a couple of years, with DD running Brexit.
He is a more credible caretaker than the current prime minister."
DD: "It will be turbulent"
UK secretary of state for exiting the EU
David Davis says a leadership election to oust Theresa May would
have a catastrophic effect on Brexit negotiations. He was unsure
about securing a Brexit deal: "I never said it was a breeze. I said
it will be turbulent, there will be difficulties but at the end
there is a point of common interest."
On EU citizens in the
UK: "They get the same residence rights, the same employment rights,
the same rights, the same health rights, the same welfare rights,
the same pensions rights and so on, almost the same as British
citizens. The only thing they don't get is the right to vote — and
we ask for the same the other way."
The disagreement came
over the role of the European Court of Justice.
2017 June 24
Uranus has the weirdest magnetic field in
our solar system. A new model suggests that the edge of its
magnetic field bubble could be opening and shutting every day.
Most of the planets in our solar system rotate around similar axes,
spinning in the same plane as their orbit. Their magnetic fields are
aligned on the same axes, with field lines emerging from the cores
of the planets near their N and S poles and wrapping them in
Uranus is different. Its rotational axis is
tilted about 1.7 rad from the plane of its orbit around the sun. The
axis of its magnetic field is tilted 1.0 rad from the rotational axis and
offset, with field lines emerging some distance from the S pole.
The Uranian magnetosphere tumbles in a complicated way. Carol
Paty and Xin Cao created a model of the magnetosphere and its
interactions with the solar wind that fits the best data to date.
The magnetosphere forms a shield against the solar wind: when
the two are moving in the same direction, the solar wind slides by.
But when they move in opposed directions, the bubble shield lets some wind
particles flow inward.
Such magnetic reconnection occurs
occasionally over Earth and can lead to intense auroras. On Uranus,
Paty and Cao found that it should happen every U-day (about 62 ks),
switching the bubble shield on and off. This could lead to auroras
The best data on the field around Uranus is from from
the Voyager 2 flyby in 1986. NASA dreams of sending a new probe to
Uranus in 2034.
Dunkirk without the boats
Brexit will be dropped like a
broken toy around 2020:
Labour will quietly ask the EU if we can
stay after all.
2017 June 23
An International Laughing Stock
The pageantry of the Queen's speech is easy
to mock. But this time the farce had nothing to do with the fancy
costumes and archaic language. The UK has chosen to legislate itself
out of the EU without having anything remotely resembling a credible
plan for national prosperity on the other side.
of Tory manifesto were expunged from the government agenda. Yet the
Queen's speech contained eight bills relating to Brexit. Just one of
them is so monstrously complicated it is hard to imagine parliament
having the capacity to do much else over the next two years.
On Monday, Brexit secretary David Davis led his negotiators into
their first session with their EU counterparts, led by Michel
Barnier. The only measurable outcome was total capitulation by the
UK side on the question of sequencing for the talks ahead. The EU27
insisted that agreement on divorce terms must precede discussion of
future trading arrangements. The UK team had intended to dispute
this timetable — but promptly folded.
Article 50 is
activated. The clock is counting down, and the pretence that May
might be prepared to walk away without a deal is melting. The bluff
was called on day one.
A tragic folly is unfolding. The UK
parliament is an international laughing stock, and not because of
the silly wigs or the funny hat on a stick.
You Have To Laugh
Britain has become the laughing stock
of Europe. The British people were lied to by the Leave campaign and
treated like idiots by the popular press. The economic outlook is
dire — yet Brexit negotiations have hardly begun.
will withdraw from its main trading alliance. It would make sense to
stay in the single market and the customs union, but that would mean
being subject to regulations over which Britain no longer had any
say. Better to have stayed in the EU in the first place.
EU is dealing with a government that has no idea what it it wants.
The UK had finally found a new place in the world as a strong,
awkward, and influential part of the EU. Now it has fallen into an
identity crisis, a fit of madness.
2017 June 22
The Queen's Speech
Theresa May has delivered a threadbare
Queen's Speech that befits her lame government. Most of the measures
in her manifesto have been ditched.
legislative package was dominated by eight measures on Brexit. May
has not yet secured a deal with the DUP, so the Government will have
to live from hand to mouth in the Commons. The
Tory party's civil war on Europe between Europhiles and
Brextremists has flared up again.
There may be no majority among MPs for hard
Brexit. There will certainly be none if May tries to walk away from
the EU negotiations without an agreement. Her "no deal is better
than a bad deal" mantra might apply to the DUP talks, but on the
Brexit negotiations it is dead.
The House of Lords, which
would have swallowed its doubts about hard Brexit if May had
enhanced her majority, will now feel no such constraint. Peers will
certainly get their teeth into the Repeal Bill, which would allow
ministers to change EU laws without full parliamentary scrutiny.
Conservative MPs do not want a general election, but if
necessary they will not hesitate to force May out.
the longest and hottest day over Poole Bay
"I want to make Mars seem
possible — make it seem as
is something that
we can do in our lifetime.
There really is a way
anyone could go if they
EU More Popular
Pew survey of 10,000 people
across the EU
in positive opinions of EU
compared with a year ago:
Germany 68% (up 18 pp)
France 56% (up 18 pp)
UK 54% (up 10
EU estimates presented
€100 billion (€60 billion
€60 billion (€40 billion net)
Trump under investigation
for possibly obstructing justice
in relation to a criminal probe
Trump tweet: "They made up
a phony collusion with the
Russians story, found zero
so now they go for
obstruction of justice on
the phony story.
AR Dude's a bozo.
2017 Summer Solstice
The harder the Brexit, the bigger the cost. The
same goes for Britain's role and influence in the world. Leaving the
EU removes the platform Britain has this century for projecting its
Britain's decline from being the leading power began
in 1914 and continued until 1980. The decline resumed after 2008.
Brexit threatens to accelerate that decline.
thread in British influence since the end of the cold war is our
cooperation with France and Germany. The three powers represent
Europe and together count for something in the world.
democratic country can be a power in the world unless it has a
thriving economy. We also have to be part of a wider team. Britain
on its own will count for little in the west.
We will be part
of NATO. But as the US withdraws from global leadership, the regions
the US has protected since 1945 have to determine their own defence
and security. That includes Europe.
I doubt that our current
leaders will countenance a strategic rethink. We need to remain
joined to our continental partners. If we can no longer help shape
the world, others will do it for us.
2017 June 20
Asgardia is open to all residents on planet Earth and
is free to join. Since Igor Ashurbeyli announced his plans to form
an independent nation that operates in outer space in October 2016,
hundreds of thousands of people have signed up to be citizens.
Asgardia will establish a physical presence in space via a
series of satellites. Ashurbeyli says the first will be launched
into Earth orbit in September 2017. The data includes things like
family photos, says Ashurbeyli.
Going forward, the Asgardia
team hopes to create habitable platforms in LEO. Ashurbeyli says our
real home is planet Earth: "Going to Mars, the galactics, so on —
that's just fake. I intend something more real."
Since launching in 2009, the NASA Kepler
mission has observed more than 200,000 stars in search of
exoplanets. Kepler has now identified 4,034 planet candidates, 2,335
of them confirmed as exoplanets and more than 30 of the confirmed
planets similar in size to Earth.
The Kepler mission has
shown that the smaller exoplanets fall into two distinct sizes:
Earth-like planets and super-Earths, and gaseous mini-Neptunes.
Altogether, Kepler has found that exoplanets can be cold gas giants,
hot Jupiters, ocean worlds, ice giants, lava worlds, and rocky
This is the final catalog detailing exoplanet
candidates and confirmations from Kepler mission K1. From 2009 to
2014, Kepler observed part of the constellation Cygnus. Kepler
broadened its search in K2 to include other parts of our galaxy. The
mission will end in October.
2017 June 19
Emmanuel I of France
Emmanuel Macron has won. The second round of
French legislative elections give his La République En Marche party
and its centrist allies 350 of 577 seats. Les Républicains and their
allies won 131 seats, the Parti Socialiste 29. Less than 44% of the
electorate turned out to vote.
2017 June 18
NATO v Russia
The Russian exclave of Kaliningrad was
surrounded on three sides by NATO forces yesterday in Operation
Saber Strike and BALTOPS. The Russian Baltic fleet is based in
Kaliningrad and the exclave is defended by nuclear-capable Iskander
The exercises included deployment of B-52, B-1B, and
B-2 bombers, showing US commitment "to ready and posture forces focused
on deterring conflict". Moscow responded by
flying two Tu-160 Blackjack bombers with fighter jets and a
spy plane over the Baltic Sea.
Last week the NATO exercises
consisted of live fire by heavy artillery in the Suwalki Gap, a 100
km stretch of land between Kaliningrad and Belarus.
commander Lieutenant-Colonel Steven Gventer: "Our focus here is to
deter and defend the alliance from aggression by being razor sharp
and lethal. God forbid we would have to defend, but we create a
deterrent effect by being credible."
2017 June 17
A Great Chancellor
Helmut Kohl (Kanzler 1982—1998) reunited Germany,
cemented its role with France at the heart of Europe, and pushed to
introduce the euro.
Entanglement is key to quantum networks and
quantum cryptography, but it is easily disrupted by interference
from the environment. Entangled photons face interference in the
lower 10 km or so of the atmosphere but are more isolated in space.
A new record for entanglement used a satellite to connect Earth
sites separated by up to 1200 km.
The satellite Quantum
Experiments at Space Scale (QUESS) was launched from Jiuquan, China,
in 2016 to orbit at an altitude of about 500 km. QUESS generated
entangled pairs of photons and transmitted them to ground stations
in China. One member of each pair went to one site and the other to
another, over distances from 500 to 2000 km.
distance was set by photons beamed at the cities of Delingha and
Lijiang in China, with experiments achieving 10^17 greater
efficiency at transmitting entangled photons than the best optical
fibers. The experiments generated about 6 million entangled pairs of
photons per second and the researchers detected about 1 pair per
Researchers in Germany measured the quantum coherence
of laser signals from about 40 Mm away. Physicists at MPI Erlangen,
Germany, worked with the Alphasat I-XL satellite in geostationary
Earth orbit, which communicates via laser signals with a ground
station in Spain. The work suggests global quantum crypto key
distribution is feasible.
2017 June 16
In this new addition to the cult of Winston,
starring Brian Cox, scripted by Alex von Tunzelmann and directed by
Jonathan Teplitzky, Churchill betrays his private agony on the eve
AR It worked for me.
Refracting the heart of the war leader through a few days in
June 1944, the tale steered short of hagiography and made a useful
counterpoint to the comparably illuminating Hitler movie
Brexit Is Dead
The Conservative party has lost face. The
UK is the most connected country in Europe — look at the financial
center in London, UK-based carmakers, what's left of British
industry. Continentals have stakes in UK electricity, waterworks,
and airports, and supply a quarter of all NHS doctors.
Brexit would let the UK remain a part of the single market. It would
mean accepting EU immigration and EU regulations — bad perhaps, but
better than no deal at all. With no deal, investors face
uncertainty, stunted growth, less trade, and higher taxes.
The promise of Brexit was a fairy
tale based on jingoism. Brexit was never a very good idea. Now, in
practical terms, it is dead.
Brexit Saved Europe
Watching Brexit unfold is such a pleasure.
One year on from the referendum, it is now clear that leaving the EU
is exceptionally difficult, carries an undeniable cost, and plays
havoc with the politics of the country attempting it.
A victory for leave
has shattered the dreams of
all the Europhobes and Eurosceptics across the union against the
brick wall of reality. So I would like to thank the British people,
who have shown a spirit of sacrifice that is greatly to their
Brexit has acted as a deterrent that united Europeans
as never before. For the past year, the British political class have
revealed their complete recklessness. Brexit amounts to a loss of
influence and an abdication of shared sovereignty in the union.
2017 June 15
Trump: The Nightmare
Donald Trump is funny. The sheer recklessness
of the things he says takes the breath away. He turned everybody on.
He spent much of his career on the bottom rungs of the entertainment
industry. The guy's played one toilet after another. And in so doing
he's honed his common touch.
A billionaire who started out
life a millionaire has become the working-class hero. Like, how much
of a nitwit is Average Joe for imagining that Trump is his man.
Trump is Average Joe except filthy stinking rich, part con man and
part ham actor. He isn't a president, he's a reality star.
Trump is a big butch American hot dog. He's a swinging dick and an
alpha male, a maker of deals and a builder of buildings. He isn't
one of those sissies who need a woman to sign a permission slip
before he'll try to hold her hand. Hell no, he grabs pussy first,
asks questions later.
Trump feeds off the ardor of his fans,
and his best outcome was defeat in a squeaker. Then he'd spend the
rest of his days shaking a fist at the system. Instead, victory. Now he's only a short jump to the nightmare: the crowd's love
turning into hate, the cheers into jeers.
May: The Cliff
Theresa May has accepted responsibility for her profound
misjudgment of politics. Over the past year she has been disdainful
and delusional. She has utterly failed to recognize the terrifying
complexity of withdrawing from the EU, the truth that our economy
needs the EU far more than they need us, and the bleak consequences
if we crash out without a deal.
The prime minister has no
mandate from the public for hard Brexit and no majority in
parliament for anything. An eighth of the time on the Brexit clock
has been wasted on this election. Europe can either make these talks
as productive as possible or so slow and awkward that no deal is
made. May can only avert disaster by creating goodwill and building
A former ambassador: "It's going to get very
bitter and twisted over the next 18 months, and she'll need a pool
of good faith. She has to understand that it's up to her, because
Europe's view is: If they want to drive themselves off a cliff,
they're going to find it bloody cold at the bottom."
AR Perhaps it was deliberate: "Let them
eat Brexit" — only then can facts prevail.
2017 June 14
View From Denmark
Road to Brexit, Copenhagen
Danish finance minister
Kristian Jensen: "There are two kinds of European nations. There are
small nations and there are countries that have not yet realised
they are small nations. It is a paradox that the country that once
had an empire on which the sun never sets, that ruled the waves,
that in its heart is truly global, is now drawing back from the
world's most successful free trade area."
Jensen reflected on
British membership of the G7, the G20, and the UN permanent security
council: "There is still this notion in some countries that because
they have been the rulers of the 20th century they will continue to
be that in the 21st century. They are a member of all these groups,
but what has happened to the value of the pound since Brexit? What
will happen in the coming years when the finance sector is perhaps
looking to Frankfurt or Paris? What will happen when inflation
rises? How will they be in the future? I am very concerned about
Britain's economy right now."
Denmark has taken Brexit very
badly. Danish Chamber of Commerce CEO Jens Klarskov: "I think the
response ranges from surprise to repulsion. How can they do that?
Would you leave your best friends among enemies? That’s what you've
done. We were best pals and now you are leaving us."
The UK is in a spectacular mess. Europhobic
obsession over EU membership has brought the country to a crisis. We
cannot assume economic life as we know it will continue after a
There is no binary choice between Remain and
Leave. Britain is now uniting Europe against the UK. That is a
Harold Macmillan understood that the UK
had a strategic interest in being part of a strong Europe. The best
choice for the UK remains to Remain. All the alternatives are much
The UK is trapped between an EU rock and a hard
Brexit. No Brexit is far better than no deal. But a bad deal, or
none, lies ahead.
AR What next —
a military putsch to impose martial law and abandon Brexit? The
putschists would have to be republicans — the Queen might prefer
a hard Brexit.
"I'm backing Theresa May.
get on with the job."
"I will continue for as long
as you want me to do
Philip Hammond is the only
figure in the cabinet who can
salvage something from the
wreckage of the Brexilection.
Colleagues say Boris Johnson
plotting a new power grab.
Hammond is more concerned
securing a reasonable
outcome to the Brexit
"Dead woman walking"
USAF B-1B Lancer bombers
deploy to England for
2 in 3 Conservative party
members say May
"After this election, there's
no mandate for the hard Brexit
the prime minister put forward
— but there's no mandate to
Brexit either. With
no majority in Parliament,
position just got weaker."
Lord Peter Ricketts
Fiona Hill resign
At the Poole count
2017 June 13
France v Britain
Theresa May will enter the Brexit
negotiations gravely weakened after the British general election.
Emmanuel Macron is poised to emerge from French elections with a
huge parliamentary majority.
Macron will see Brexit as a
historic opportunity. Macron has a vision of a revitalized France
inside a revitalized EU that works better if Brexit proceeds
uninterrupted. Macron wants much deeper EU integration on defense
and finance, and Britain has been a brake on European federalism.
Macron needs to show French voters that leaving the EU will
bring only pain. If he can also rebuild the Franco-German
partnership at the heart of the EU, he can restore the popularity of
the European project in France. With Britain out of the EU, there is
a better chance of restarting the drive for European integration.
The opportunities for France are economic as much as political.
If Britain excludes itself from the EU single market, France has a
unique chance to hoover up jobs in finance and manufacturing. Macron
has little economic or political incentive to make concessions on
migration or money.
As President Macron pursues French
interests, he will occupy the moral high ground. Britain has brought
its fate upon itself, while he is motivated by a desire to protect
the European project.
Get On With It!
Next week, it will be three months after
the sending of the Article 50 letter. We have not progressed. We
must begin this negotiation. We are ready as soon as the UK is
My preoccupation is that time is passing, The subjects
we have to deal with are extraordinarily complex. It will take us
several months to draw out the conditions of an orderly withdrawal,
so let us not waste time.
From my side, there is no spirit of
revenge, no punishment, no naivety either. There is truth on what
Brexit means, what leaving the EU signifies by its consequences. The
citizens have the right to know this truth.
AR We could invite Barnier to serve as
guest UK prime minister.
2017 June 12
France Is Back
President Macron strengthened his grip on power as his centrist
party La République En Marche swept to an overwhelming victory in
the first round of parliamentary elections. The party is on course
to secure a landslide of between 415 and 445 of the 577 seats in the
AR This is
what the UK needs — a new hero, a new party, new hope.
A Softer Tone
Theresa May faces a showdown with
re-elected Conservative MPs today. The party civil war on Europe may
be about to reignite as she tries to negotiate a deal with the DUP.
May had to abandon plans for a sweeping cabinet reshuffle,
including the expected sacking of her chancellor Philip Hammond.
Instead most of her senior team stay in place.
appointed Damian Green (PPE, Oxford, and a staunch pro-European) as
first secretary of state, in effect deputy PM. He will play a key
role in setting Brexit policy.
Theresa May saw that the popular will had
been established on that sacred referendum day. Boris Johnson
promised that Britain could have its cake and eat it. After the
election, the unified people would have a unified parliament and a
strong leader to stand on the cliffs of Dover and shake her spear of
sovereignty at the damn continentals.
All May had to do was
repeat the words "strong and stable" over and over and Labour would
be crushed forever. Britain would become one-party state, and Europe
would bow and concede a Brexit deal in which supplies of cake would
be infinitely renewed. There were three problems:
1 May demanded an enormous majority so
that she could ride out into the Brexit battle without having to
worry about mutterings in the ranks behind her. But to win an
election, you need a convincing narrative.
2 The Conservatives tried to build a
personality cult around a robotic politician. The party has plunged
the UK into an existential crisis because it was too weak to stand
up to a few nationalist zealots and tabloid press barons.
3 The idea of a single British people
united by the Brexit vote is ludicrous. Not only do Scotland,
Northern Ireland, and London have large anti-Brexit majorities, but
many of those who did vote for Brexit are deeply unhappy about the
effects of government austerity policies.
May will form a
government with the support of the DUP. That government will be weak
and unstable and it will have no real authority to negotiate an
agreement with the European Union. Brexit is thus far from being a
Theresa May went into the
contest seeking a stronger negotiating hand with the EU. But she had
nothing to say about Brexit that she wanted to share with the
electorate. She gave the impression that we should trust her to get
the deal done, not worry our silly little heads about the detail.
The manifesto failed because May and her inner circle rebuffed
almost every single person who offered advice. They forgot the
golden rule of political survival: listen. Her presidential campaign
kept ministers away from the cameras and put her before
candidates on their own leaflets.
Anyone with the interests
of the country at heart would be building a cross-party and business
alliance to tackle Brexit. Instead, we have delusion and denial. It
cannot be long before May is challenged for the leadership.
Since Galilieo, science has been one long
success story. It has uncovered the workings of nature and brought
untold benefits to humanity. Philosophy has done less well.
But philosophers hand things over to scientists. All
new sciences start as branches of philosophy, and only become
established as separate disciplines once philosophy has bequeathed
them the intellectual capital to survive on their own.
Physics as we know it was grounded in the mechanical philosophy of
Descartes and others. Whenever philosophy makes progress, it spawns
a new subject, which then no longer counts as part of philosophy. So
philosophy is full of progress.
Philosophical problems arise
within science as well as outside it. The interpretation of quantum
mechanics is a scientific question that admits no simple
experimental resolution. We need a coherent theory to accommodate
Philosophical issues typically have the form of a
paradox. Scientific theories can be infected by paradox too. The
quantum wave packet must collapse, but this violates physical law.
Here philosophical methods are called for, to figure out where our
thinking is leading us astray.
One of the great scandals of
our time is the way physicists have brushed the problems of quantum
mechanics under the carpet. Generations of students were told that
the glaring inconsistencies apparent in the theory were none of
their business. Shut up and calculate was the line.
people dislike banging their heads against nasty paradoxes. But
someone has to do it. Philosophers take on the hard questions.
AR Quantum paradoxes? I'm onto them.
2017 June 11
Did Higgs Blow Up The Universe?
The universe began as a hot speck of energy
and inflated quantum fluctuations to form stars and galaxies.
1 Fedor Bezrukov and Mikhail
Shaposhnikov show how the Higgs boson could be the inflaton. The
Higgs field could have inflated the tiny cosmos exponentially, in a
fraction of a second, by nearly as much as it did in the following
13.8 billion years. The Higgs potential curve is shaped like a dip
with a bump in the middle. The Higgs comes to rest in the dip to one
side and gives mass to other particles. If the side of the dip has
a flat shelf around it, the Higgs could sit there and flood the
universe with extreme antigravity.
Juan García-Bellido says a tweaked Higgs potential implies a second
scalar particle, the dilaton. The expansion of the universe is
accelerating, and the dilaton field could provide the boost to
expansion. The dilaton would prevent the Higgs mass from dilating
too much but itself would be massless. Dark energy would be its main
effect in the universe.
Alexander Kusenko says the Higgs field could have been much stronger
during inflation. As the field relaxed, it could distinguish between
particles and antiparticles, leaving more matter than antimatter,
which would otherwise have annihilated each other to leave an empty
AR Neat — three wins at
2017 June 10
Deal with the DUP
BBC, 1951 BST
The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has
agreed in principle a "confidence and supply" deal to support a
Deal with the DUP?
Theresa May is in talks with the
Party in Northern Ireland about forming a minority government.
The DUP holds 10 of Northern Ireland's 18 Westminster seats. DUP
leader Arlene Foster is keen to avoid a hard border with Ireland and
has spoken against a hard Brexit.
DUP chief whip Jeffrey
Donaldson: "This is perfect territory for the DUP because obviously
if the Conservatives are just short of an overall majority it puts
us in a very strong negotiating position. Certainly that is one we
would take up with relish."
Democratic Unionist Party
The DUP was founded by Ian
Paisley in 1971. The party opposed 1981 talks between Margaret
Thatcher and Irish prime minister Charles Haughey, and tried to
create a Protestant loyalist volunteer militia to fight the IRA. The
DUP opposed the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement.
Troubles, the DUP withdrew from the 1998 Good Friday Agreement in
protest when Sinn Fein was allowed to participate while the IRA had
not been disarmed. The DUP opposed the agreement in a subsequent
referendum in which 71% of the electorate approved the agreement.
The DUP is populist and socially conservative: it is
anti-abortion, opposes same-sex marriage, and formerly campaigned
against the legalisation of homosexual acts in Northern Ireland. It
aims to defend Ulster Protestant culture against Irish nationalism
and backs Brexit.
Independent described the DUP as backed by terrorists.
The New York
Times called it a hard-line reactionary party.
Form British National Unity Government
Theresa May had decided that
Britain would never accept free movement of people or the authority
of the European Court of Justice. The UK would not remain in the
single market or even the customs union. Beyond that, her message
was — trust me and I will deliver.
The voters have said no.
But the Brexit negotiations are set to begin in less than a
fortnight. The talks cannot simply be kicked into the long grass
until the Conservative party elects a new leader. None of the
obvious successors seem likely to be unifying figures, and another
general election would probably only confirm a deeply divided
The Brexit negotiations put a high premium on having
a government that can speak firmly and unequivocally. A national
unity government, made up of ministers from both major parties,
would create a stronger negotiating position — with a softer vision
AR Forming a NUG next week
will be hard on the whips.
May Must Share Power
● Theresa May has governed
mainly through powerful cabinet committees and through her two
chiefs of staff, Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill. Now both are gone, she
needs one new chief of staff who can command authority in the
● May has treated cabinet
members as instruments of her will. She should appoint a deputy
prime minister and co-govern with the Chancellor, the home
secretary, the foreign secretary, the Brexit secretary, the chief
whip, and a new party chairman.
● May needs to work more
closely with the 1922 Committee chair Graham Brady. She needs to
bring policy making closer to MPs and the Conservative Policy Forum.
The 1922 Committee should be represented on the Downing Street
● May should invite the
Scottish Conservative party leader Ruth Davidson to attend Political
Cabinet, just as Boris Johnson did when he was Mayor of London.
● Assuming that May can form a
workable minority government, she needs to try to gain as much
support as possible across the party divide.
May We Criticize?
Theresa May shunned others and tried to make a
virtue of it. She had no political friends. But her real failure was
to misunderstand the country she wanted to lead.
people to vote for her so that she might "fulfill the promise of
Brexit" and to strengthen her hand in the Brexit negotiations. She
portrayed the Brussels bureaucrats as intent on frustrating her
attempt to free the UK from their deadening clutches. Her language
became increasingly confrontational as she hinted at something close
to a diplomatic war with the EU.
But we are not at war on the
continent. Neither are we in a position to show up at international
meetings and dominate. And yet this seemed to be the entirety of her
Brexit plan. Britain would simply state its demands and the
Europeans would agree to them — or no deal.
May seemed to
think that what people needed was to be told off and shoved in the
right direction. When she took office, she immediately set up two
vast new government departments: one to negotiate Brexit, the other
to hammer out new trade deals. Brexit was a sort of nationalism,
where everyone knew that Britain was supreme and foreigners were to
The prime minister wanted to sail the ship of
state into a future that looked very much like its glorious past.
Her worldview is fifty years out of date.
AR Before the Summer of Love?
Theresa May miscalculated badly in calling an election. She then
mismanaged the conduct of the election. She has lost public trust
and lost her authority to govern. In its merciless and underhand
way, the incoming parliamentary Conservative Party will soon be
making that clear to her. So let the sane centrists find their
collective voice now before the Europhobes and their opportunist
hitchhikers like Boris Johnson mobilize.
AR Parris detests Boris.
2017 June 9
Weak and Wobbly
As the election approached, May repeated her slogan
"strong and stable" ad nauseam, to the point that it became a joke.
The reasonable response to the election results would be for her to
resign. But Brexit negotiations are set to begin on June 19.
The front between the UK and the EU27 member states has
hardened. A Brexit without an agreement would be bitter for the EU
but disastrous for the UK. Britain could use a strong and stable
Europe Must Act
When it comes to Brexit the UK is like a
child that just will not see reason. The EU must therefore start
preparing to impose its own solution.
The Brexit referendum
campaign was waged with lies, manipulation and delusional promises,
leading millions of Britons to vote for an option that was not on
the menu: have cake and eat it.
This election could have been
the moment when Britain made a choice between have cake and sail
into hard Brexit or eat cake and accept all the rules of the single
This was not what Labour or the Conservatives
offered. Both all but avoided Brexit during the campaign. This is
the state of denial that Britain is still in.
afford to risk the integrity and coherence of the single market by
giving Britain a sweet deal. But nor can it risk total economic
meltdown in the UK.
The Evening Standard
Theresa May has been forced into a
deal with Northern Ireland MPs to save her from an ignominious
departure from 10 Downing Street.
May: "Having secured the
largest number of votes it is clear that only the Conservative and
Unionist Party has the certainty and legitimacy commanding a
majority in the House of Commons."
Conservative MPs seethed
that she had tossed away her Commons majority in a catastrophic
gamble. Many thought she would be out in two years or less.
May is now in talks with the Democratic Unionist Party. The DUP is
expected to drive a hard bargain as May rang its leader to strike
the sort of bargain she had jeered at as a "coalition of chaos".
The Commons was divided as follows: Conservatives, 318 (-12);
Labour, 261 (+29); SNP, 35 (-21); Liberal Democrats, 12 (+4); DUP,
10 (+2); Others, 13. One seat is yet to call. Turnout was 32,159,240
(68.74%). UKIP was crushed and its leader quit.
A night of
shock sent sterling plunging 2% against the dollar and the euro as
the world weighed the implications for Brexit negotiations.
Donald Tusk tweet:
We don't know when Brexit talks start. We
know when they must end. Do your best to avoid a "no deal" as result
of "no negotiations".
Instant karma ..
Theresa May's gamble on a snap election failed. She has not won
a majority, but she remains prime minister until she either attempts
and fails to form a government or she resigns.
Conservatives will remain in government until it is agreed who will
try to form a new government or unless May resigns. She will have
the first go at assembling a majority.
Frantic talks are
expected over coming days as parties scramble to try and agree
deals. A new government must test whether it can command the
confidence of the House.
The Queen's speech is scheduled for
Monday June 19. Brexit talks are also set to begin on June 19.
"Wow. So good Labour stronger. So good Brutal Brexit rejected.
So good next generation realized the stakes and spoke up."
"Theresa May anointed herself Empress of Brexit.
Now her authority is shot."
Khor Al Adaid, Qatar
The New York Times
President Trump has taken sides with
Saudi Arabia and other Sunni states to bully Qatar.
the UAE, Egypt, Bahrain, and Yemen cut ties to Qatar mainly because
Qatar has a relationship with Shiite Iran.
On Wednesday, Daesh
claimed responsibility for deadly attacks in Tehran at the Iranian
parliament and the Khomeini mausoleum.
Qatar hosts the forward HQ
of US Central Command, a major intelligence hub, and a big US air
There is no sign that Trump has thought any of this
"You don't win a culture war
Conflict wanted. Goals
wanted. Dreams wanted.
a story I want
to be part of."
"I want us to have a decent
and harmonious community
Britain .. The best way of
dealing with a negative
Zeit, die Indoktrination mit
wirkungsvoll zu bekämpfen
More London horror
"The EU remains the most extraordinary,
liberal political alliance in
recorded history. It
seen unprecedented peace
and prosperity for 70 years.
It is the dream trading bloc
and a heroic project."
"The European Union must
resist the temptation to
Britain and approach
the negotiations in a
Britain is a parliamentary
democracy. Within five years
it has to hold another general
election and the next
may vote to be
reunited with Europe."
2017 June 8
Beginning: Brexit Catastrophe
The electorate is going to the polls today in a state of
blissful ignorance over the catastrophe that is about to hit the UK.
Theresa May called
an election to give herself a mandate for her version of Brexit. She
has told the electorate nothing new about how she intends to do it,
about how Britons will be poorer and more highly taxed if she keeps
to her plan to leave both the single market and the customs union,
or the devastation that will follow if she walks away from the table
without a deal. Her victory will be based on evasion and soothing
Her decision to interpret 52% as licence for a hard
Brexit is as outrageous as if the Remainers had won a narrow victory
and immediately decided to join the euro, the Schengen travel area,
and an EU army, declaring that no discussion was needed because this
was the people's will.
For a year we have been in a phoney
Brexit. Six months ago we were the fastest-growing economy in the
G7, but figures from the G7 last week show we are tying with Italy
for the slowest growth as the EZ forges ahead of us. HM Treasury
says an agreed Brexit will make us £36 billion a year poorer by 2032
and a no-deal exit will cost £45 billion.
May and her people
view the EU as opponents. Under her government the Brexit fires are
starting to burn.
2017 June 7
White House advisers HR McMaster and Gary
Cohn write: "The president embarked on his first foreign trip with a
clear-eyed outlook that the world is not a 'global community' but an
arena where nations, non-governmental actors and businesses engage
and compete for advantage. We bring to this forum unmatched
military, political, economic, cultural and moral strength. Rather
than deny this elemental nature of international affairs, we embrace
Earth is not just an arena. It is our shared home. It
does not belong to one nation, even a powerful one. Looking after
the planet is the moral responsibility of all.
AR Wolf is right, of course.
Theresa May has had trouble spelling out what
a post-EU Britain would look like. Brexiteers propose recapturing
the spirit of an earlier Elizabethan age, when plucky English
buccaneers forged pathways to the New World. This is a delusion.
The elites, not the people, have led the British retreat from
Europe and the world. Most of them started their careers as student
political hacks, and the ties they forged nourished their political
careers. What they lacked in global experience they substituted with
Brussels could cope with a nasty divorce.
Britain could not. Yet May
seems to be going out of her way to rub the Europeans the wrong way.
Thanks to her, the EU27 are now of one mind.
AR May must see this.
2017 June 6
Islamist terrorism is not a perversion of Islam.
The West equates religion with spirituality. But Islam is as much a
political ideology as a source of spiritual guidance.
Mohammad Tawhidi: "The scriptures are exactly what is pushing these
people to behead the infidel. Our books teach the beheading of
Jihadist Islam is dominant once again in the Muslim
world. Islamists believe their values represent the word of God. For
them, no other values can possibly be superior.
We must see
jihadist Islam as at the extreme end of a continuum of beliefs that
are incompatible with British society. We should close down radical
mosques, deport those born in other countries who are involved in
extremism, stop foreign funding for Muslim institutions, and ban the
Muslim Brotherhood. We should also outlaw Sharia courts.
Jihadist terrorists are not trying to divide us, destroy our values,
or stop the general election. They are trying to kill us and conquer
AR Islamism is a global
military threat. Kill the jihadis before they kill us. And forget
the British spin — they threaten all Western societies. Unite or be
For a long time I could not bring myself to
write about the British election. The June 8 vote was a formality.
The Labour Party was in meltdown. The British, their ludicrous vote
to leave the European Union gradually sinking in, would give May her
Suddenly, we have an election after all. The
expected Tory landslide has evaporated. May embraced a hard Brexit
and came up with a dementia tax to punish people for living too
long. Opinion polls now put Corbyn within a few percentage points of
A Labour victory would punish the Tories for the
disaster of Brexit.
AR It would
also lead to chaos and confusion — economic mayhem, loss of control
of national debt, rank amateurs in government, weakness on Russia
and Islam — not good.
2017 June 5
We are experiencing a new trend in the threat we face.
Perpetrators are copying one another and often using crude means of
attack. Things need to change:
The recent attacks are connected by the evil ideology of Islamist
extremism. It is an ideology that claims our western values are
incompatible with Islam. It will only be defeated when we make
people understand that our values are superior to anything offered
by the preachers and supporters of hate.
2 We cannot allow this ideology the safe
space it needs to breed. We need to work with allied democratic
governments to prevent the spread of extremism. And we need to do
everything we can at home to reduce the risks of extremism online.
3 There is far too much tolerance of
extremism in our country. We need to become far more robust in
identifying it and stamping it out across the public sector and
across society. The whole of our country needs to come together to
take on this extremism.
4 We have
a robust counter-terrorism strategy. We need to review our strategy
to make sure the police and security services have all the powers
they need. We may need to increase the length of custodial sentences
for terrorist-related offences.
Our country has made progress
in disrupting plots and protecting the public. Our society should
continue to function in accordance with our values. We must come
together, we must pull together, and united we will take on and
defeat our enemies.
AR United in
solidarity with other Europeans facing the same threat.
2017 June 4
Erik Hoel has published an
essay that aims to explain how consciousness and agency arise.
He claims that causes can emerge at macroscopic scales, and that
macro states of a physical system such as a brain can have more
causal power than a micro description of the system.
shows that macro scales gain causal power rather like
error-correcting codes increase the amount of information that can
be sent over data channels. Macro states reduce noise and
uncertainty in a causal structure, making system behavior more
Giulio Tononi conceives of consciousness as
information encoded not in the states of individual neurons but in
the complex networking of neurons into ensembles in the brain. His
integrated information theory (IIT) aims to characterize
Tononi tasked Hoel with exploring the
mathematical relationship between the size of neural groups and
information. Hoel quantified the causal power of brain states by
measuring causation in bits. His measure, effective information
(EI), is simpler and more general than integrated information.
Scott Aaronson: "It was hard for me to find anything in the
essay that the world's most orthodox reductionist would disagree
with. Yes, of course you want to pass to higher abstraction layers
in order to make predictions, and to tell causal stories that are
predictively useful — and the essay explains some of the reasons
Physicists say causation starts with interactions
between elementary particles. It originates at the micro level and
is merely easier to discuss at the macro level.
AR I tried to explain my
Mindworlds model of
consciousness to Aaronson at TSC
2001 (Skoevde) and to Tononi at
ASSC XIII (Berlin,
2017 June 3
On Earth, 4 billion years of evolution led
eventually to technology and the world we live in today. The
direction of travel is almost certainly toward a posthuman world.
After a few millennia of gradually expanding technology generated by
human beings, maybe there will be billions of years more when the
dominant technology is entirely inorganic.
Mars is far less
clement than the South Pole, and not many people want to live there.
Robots are becoming more sophisticated, and all the science can be
done by robots just as well as by human beings. Huge fabricators up
in space will assemble telescope dishes and solar energy collectors.
The collective effect that we are having as a species is causing
changes to the atmosphere and the climate. A second class of threats
arises because the world of things is more interconnected. The
biotechnology issue is scary too.
Scientific advisors have a
limited impact on political leaders. The Pope raised concerns about
the risks to biodiversity and to climate from the heavier footprint
of the rising human population and said people have an obligation to
nature. That statement was an important input to the Paris
conference on climate change in December 2015.
Brexit is the most important single
development in British foreign policy since declaring war on Germany
in 1939, and arguably the worst unforced error ever in British
Britain is leaving the EU on the absurd assumption
that the EU-27 will give it a sweetheart deal. Since 1940, the UK
has ridden tall on US power, but this free ride is gone with America
AR Millions of British
voters expressed indifference or contempt for the European idea in June 2016.
Nationally, this was a shameful revelation of factual ignorance and moral
2017 June 2
A Disgraceful Exit
The New York Times
President Trump has an incredibly
shortsighted approach to climate change. He said the Paris agreement
was a bad deal for the United States. Yet it is a voluntary
agreement under which more than 190 countries offered aspirational
emissions targets, pledged their best efforts to meet them, and
agreed to give periodic updates on how they were doing.
clearly knows nothing or cares little about the science underlying
the stark warnings of environmental disruption, about the problems
that disruption could bring, or about the fact that America has a
special obligation to help the rest of the world address these
Trump clings to the false narrative that
environmental regulations are job killers, that efforts to curb
carbon dioxide emissions will hurt the economy, that the way forward
lies in yet more burning of fossil fuels. Yet the global transition
from fossil fuels has opened up a huge market estimated at $6
trillion by 2030, for renewable fuels, electric cars, and new
Big economic benefits flow from protecting
human health and the environment. Technologies are improving and the
business community is ready. About two-thirds of Americans are
worried about climate change and wanted to stay in the Paris
The Weather Channel greeted the White House news
with every ounce of righteous outrage it deserved. Its top nine
stories were all devoted to the topic. Two of them covered the
announcement. The other seven methodically explained exactly why it was so misguided and why it
The Weather Channel network has concluded
that climate change poses a threat that transcends partisan
politics. Its stories illustrated the damage climate change is
poised to wreak and gave a science-based refutation of the
notion that the threat is overstated or hypothetical.
Third LIGO Detection
The LIGO collaboration has made its third
observation of gravitational waves emanating from a pair of merging
black holes. This pair was about 3 billion light years away.
LIGO detects ripples in spacetime caused by moving masses. The spins
of merging black holes can warp those waveforms, which are mostly
produced by their orbits and eventual collision.
first event, we did not have enough information to determine spin
direction of the black holes. For the second, we saw that each black
hole was probably spinning in the same direction. For this third
pair, they are probably spinning in different directions.
Black hole binaries are either born together from a pair of orbiting stars or
they form separately in a stellar cluster and drift
together. In the first case, the pair should rotate in the same
direction as they orbit. In the second, they can point in any
2017 June 1
Global Enemy #1
pulls America out of the Paris agreement.
Zooming the Sun
Parker Solar Probe will swoop to within 6 Gm of the surface of
the Sun, facing heat and radiation like no spacecraft before it.
Launching in 2018, PSP will provide new data on solar activity and
increase our ability to forecast major space weather events that
impact life on Earth.
explores the last and most important region of the solar system to
be visited by a scientific spacecraft. The National
Academy of Sciences estimates that without advance warning a huge
solar event could cause $2 trillion in damage in the United States
Physics of Time
General Relativity and the Standard Model are
based on time-symmetric laws. The eternal cosmos spanning all of
spacetime is sometimes called the block universe.
Andreas Albrecht says that to understand the distinction between
past, present and future, you have to ask how an observer perceives
Avshalom Elitzur: "The future does not exist ..
Ontologically, it's not there."
Lee Smolin: "The future is
not now real and there can be no definite facts of the matter about
Sean Carroll: "The entropy of the universe will
be larger tomorrow than it is today. But if that was all you knew,
you'd also say that the entropy of the universe was probably larger
yesterday than today — because all the underlying dynamics are
completely symmetric with respect to time."
George Ellis says
the universe is a growing volume of spacetime. Its surface is the
present moment and represents the instant where the indefiniteness
of the future changes to the definiteness of the past. One can see
the direction of time by looking at which part of the universe is
fixed (the past) and which is changing (the future). This is a GR
block universe with a future boundary in the present.
Sorkin says that in causal set theory spacetime is discrete rather
than continuous. Planck scale atoms of spacetime form a partially
ordered set. The number of these atoms gives rise to the volume of
spacetime, while their sequence gives rise to time. New spacetime
atoms are continually coming into existence.
AR I'm writing a paper on the physics of time — and I pretty much agree with all the
For me, getting it right means abandoning the whole stupid idea.
"Anyone who today puts
on national blinkers and no
eyes for the world
around him is, I am convinced,
out on a limb."
Angela Merkel has made by
some margin the
assertion of historical meaning
over the seismic
of 2016 in Britain and America.
is that they mark
the end of an era, 1945-2016,
Western nations of
the world were reliable
on one another.
German foreign minister
of migration will only increase
as a result of
the departure of
the new US government from
the Western policy
The short-sighted policy of
is against the interests of
the European Union."
Theresa May will try to woo
working-class voters this week.
She will seize on aggressive
Brexit demands from
to insist that only she can negotiate a good deal.
tell voters concerned about immigration and
that their views have been
ridiculed and ignored
for too long.
selber für unsere Zukunft
kämpfen, als Europäer,
für unser Schicksal."
Angela Merkel: "Die Zeiten,
in denen wir
uns auf andere
völlig verlassen konnten,
die sind ein Stück vorbei
Wir Europäer müssen unser
Schicksal wirklich in unsere
Diskussion über Klimaschutz
UK threat level critical
Troops patrol streets
President Richard Nixon
went to Saudi Arabia and
June 1974 to change
the domestic narrative. He
Horror in Manchester
Suicide bomb attack at
Ariana Grande concert:
22 killed, 59 injured
2017 May 31
No Deal Is No Option
Angela Merkel has a record of 11 years in
office. To her, Brexit looks mad. Germany is a leading global
exporter and a stalwart EU member without one contradicting the
The Brexit vote has changed perceptions of the UK on
the world stage. The British look volatile, uncooperative, nationalistic. Now
Merkel has lumped Britain in with America as an unreliable
For decades EU leaders bridled at British tabloid
caricatures of their meetings as a conspiracy against plucky Albion.
But they accepted assurances that this was pantomime. It did not
occur to them that the tabloid view of the European project might
become official UK policy.
Boris Johnson is despised in
Brussels as a prime peddler of Europhobic myths. Making him foreign
secretary was read as a hostile act by Theresa May. Since then, she
has shown no new understanding of Europe and little grasp of what is
realistically available from an Article 50 deal.
Commission has published detailed draft negotiating positions on the
rights of EU citizens in the UK and on budget liabilities. The talks
begin on June 19. David Davis seems relaxed, but his department
cannot match the EU apparatus for experience and capacity.
Insisting that no deal is better than a bad deal is nonsense. The
line is popular and has intuitive appeal. But the UK is not buying a
deal from the EU. If the talks fail, Brexit ends in a train wreck.
May is either bluffing or delusional. The rest of the world
knows this and fears the consequences. Merkel has resorted to
voicing that anxiety in public.
2017 May 30
We have a MASSIVE trade deficit with
Germany, plus they pay FAR LESS than they should on NATO & military.
Very bad for U.S. This will change
3:40 AM - 30 May 2017
European Defense Strategy
President Trump is ready to put American
business interests before those of Planet Earth or of Europeans
facing down Russia. If it comes to a fight, America will be last,
The EU powers and the British government need a
new strategy. Angela Merkel sees this. Her speech should lead Europe
to consolidate around the EZ core and liberal values.
Britain, set on a catastrophic exit from the EU single market, must
wake up. When the UK was the dominant world power, playing one
European power against another may have been fun. After 1945, the
urge to stand aloof from Europe and seek to divide it is fatal.
We need to defuse the Brexit bomb fast. The current UK
government includes amateurs who dream of a new trading empire and
nationalists who jeer at the idea of a European army.
shows the current strategy of NATO is a dead letter. From 1939 to
1941, the UK had to fight as a European power to survive. Europe
needs more security cooperation.
Brextremists often say the EU economy is
weak and the UK economy can boom by leaving it. In fact, Brexit
threatens to make matters worse.
British economic growth
between 2000 and 2015 lagged behind Spain and Germany. In 2015
Britain ranked only slightly ahead of France. UK wages have risen by
much less than French and German wages over the last 15 years, and
Brits have to work longer hours than the French or the Germans to
earn as much. Since 2000, poorer regions of Britain have not been
catching up with richer EU regions but falling further behind.
A successful labor market requires skilled workers, access to
housing, and good quality infrastructure. A significantly higher
proportion of young British adults suffer from weak literacy and
numeracy than those in France, Germany, Italy, or Spain. The UK is
building around half as many houses as it did 40 years ago, and has
invested less in roads, railways, and air travel than other large EU
economies over the last 20 years.
Outside the EU, Britain
will trade less with member states. Brexit threatens to make a
mediocre economic performance even worse.
Merkel in Munich
Speaking at an election rally in Munich,
Angela Merkel came close to announcing the death of the Western
alliance. But her speech was a blunder for at least five reasons:
1 It is a mistake to allow the Trump
presidency to throw into doubt an alliance that has kept the peace
in Europe for 70 years. It is possible that Trump is an aberration
and will soon be out of office.
Trump was right about the failure of most European countries to meet
NATO targets on military expenditure. It is unsustainable for the US
to account for most of NATO defense spending.
3 By implying that NATO is now coming
apart, Merkel has compounded the error Trump made. Encouraging the
Russian government in this way reduces European security.
4 Merkel was unwise and unfair to
bracket Britain with America. The UK sided with the EU against the
US on climate change. The UK government upholds the British
commitment to NATO.
5 Pursuit of
the Brexit negotiations in a similar spirit would risk creating
lasting antagonism between Britain and the EU. A hard Brexit could
weaken the British commitment to NATO.
Merkel chose a
beer-tent in Bavaria to announce a separation from the UK and the US
while bracketing those two countries with Russia.
AR She was
2017 May 29
Every Word a Winner
Annett Meiritz, Anna Reimann, Severin Weiland
Angela Merkel in a Munich beer tent: "We must fight for our
future, as Europeans, for our destiny."
Merkel is now
regarded as a leader of the liberal world. Her beer tent speech
breaks with her previous caution over the US president. Her hopes
are fading for constructive cooperation with Trump.
says "America First" and means Europe must do more in future. Merkel
and her foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel agree on more defense
spending — controversial in Germany.
Global and European
politics will be important in the German election campaign. Merkel
now poses as a champion for Europe against Trump.
betting on France. She and President Emmanuel Macron will push for a
roadmap of reforms. Gabriel has a plan to invest more in EZ
defense and foreign policy.
fusion can be the core of a historic union as strong and stable as China.
Merkel v Trump
The New York Times
German Chancellor Angela Merkel,
Europe's most influential leader, has apparently concluded that the
United States of President Trump is no longer as reliable as it once
Merkel: "We Europeans must really take our fate into our
own hands — of course in friendship with the United States of
America, in friendship with Great Britain, and as good neighbors
wherever possible also with other countries."
discussion about climate was very unsatisfactory — six against one.
Trump refused to endorse the Paris climate accord, scolded
Germany for its trade practices, and lectured NATO members for not
spending enough on defense.
Trump tweet: "Just returned from
Europe. Trip was a great success for America. Hard work but big
Presidency in Peril
If Donald Trump leaves office before four
years are up, this month might turn out to be the turning point. New
revelations surround whether he colluded with Russia. His troubles
will only grow.
Impeachable offenses are political questions.
An impeachment of a president is grounded in the theory that the
holder of that office has failed to fulfill his responsibility to
take care that the laws be faithfully executed. This prevents a
president from setting a tone that leads to acts by his aides that
amount to a violation of constitutional government.
the most unhappy White House staff ever. He is a nearly impossible
person to work for and screams at his staff when they tell him
something he doesn't want to hear. People who have been to the Oval
Office have come away stunned by his minimal attention span, his
appalling lack of information, his tendency to say more than he
The survival of Trump's presidency may depend on
congressional Republicans. Their challenge is how to overcome the
blights of Trump's chaotic governing and his lack of achievements on
Capitol Hill. His sole substantive accomplishment thus far is House
approval of a health care overhaul that will throw tens of millions
of people off of health insurance.
Trump is in some ways a
cannier politician than Nixon. He knows how to lie to his people to
keep them behind him. But he cannot keep blaming his failures on
2017 May 28
Ingrid D. Rowland
On Halloween 1517, Martin Luther,
Augustinian friar and professor of theology, posted a broadsheet on
the faculty bulletin board of Wittenberg University in Saxony. The
poster proclaimed a series of propositions that questioned the basic
beliefs of the Catholic Church.
theses set off the spark that ignited the Protestant Reformation.
Friar Martin focused his ire on the sale of indulgences. These papal
dispensations grew out of a traditional medieval conviction that
prayer, repentance, good works, and pilgrimage could atone in some
measure for sin.
The sale of indulgences became an industry
in Saxony. Pope Julius II and the Augsburg banker Jakob Fugger
directed the revenue from German indulgences toward the rebuilding
of Saint Peter's in Rome. Penitents put coins in indulgence chests,
iron-bound coffers like giant armored piggy banks.
was driven by a spiritual insight. The Christian hope for eternal
life, he believed, was a divine gift that no human being, no matter
how virtuous, could ever deserve. Salvation was a gift from God,
bestowed by divine grace.
Luther survived the
firestorm his theses ignited not only because of his courage and
eloquence but also because the local sovereign, Elector Frederick
III of Saxony, sided with him. The archbishop of Mainz, Albert of
Brandenburg, sided against and reported on the theses to Pope Leo X.
The pope summoned Friar Martin to Rome but the friar demurred.
An interview was arranged in Augsburg in 1518. The inquisitor
was a cardinal under instructions to make Luther recant or to arrest
him and drag him back to Rome. But Luther stood his ground and the
cardinal let him go.
In the following years, Luther
proclaimed his views in torrents of prose and poetry in both Latin
and German, and spread them as widely as the printing press could
reach. He married the runaway nun Katharina von Bora, who bore him
AR Halloween 2017 —
mark your calendar!
2017 May 27
Donald Trump wrecked the G7 summit: After
endless wrangling, only a meager communiqué emerged.
did not want to commit clearly to the Paris climate agreement. He
portrayed the fight against terrorism as more important in a tweet:
"Terrorism is at the top of the list." He blocked progress on free
trade and criticized the Germans for running a trade surplus with
AR Mr Nyet should take
more care of his levers of global power.
G7 leaders call on internet giants to crack down on
extremist content. But they failed to agree on climate change — US
president Donald Trump refused to endorse the 2015 Paris accord on
reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Trump and UK prime minister
Theresa May talked trade.
G7: Canada, France, Germany, Italy,
Japan, UK and US.
German Cars Are Better
US president Donald Trump: "I don't have
a problem with Germany, I have a problem with German trade. Look at
the millions of cars they sell in the US. Terrible. We'll stop it."
German manufacturers exported 670,000 cars and light trucks to
the US last year. BMW, Mercedes Benz, and Volkswagen produced
809,000 vehicles at their US plants. US auto imports from Germany,
worth $22 billion, were 3.8% of all US auto imports in 2016.
EU president Donald Tusk: "This is going to be the most challenging
G7 meeting in years. It is no secret that some leaders have
different positions on climate, on trade .. Most importantly, we
have to defend the rule-based international order."
economic adviser Gary Cohn: "He wants to understand how we can bring
back manufacturing, bring back jobs, but still be environmentally
friendly, but not have a restriction enforced upon us that makes
absolutely no sense."
make the best cars, Americans make the best weapons. This
illustrates the Ricardo theory of comparative advantage and shows
why global free trade is best.
2017 May 26
Members of the alliance must finally
contribute their fair share and meet their financial obligations:
23 of the 28 member nations are still not paying what they should be
paying and what they are supposed to be paying for their defense.
Two percent is the bare minimum for confronting today's very
real and very vicious threats. If NATO countries made their full and
complete contributions, then NATO would be even stronger than it is
today, especially from the threat of terrorism.
The NATO of
the future must include a great focus on terrorism and immigration.
You have thousands and thousands of people pouring into our various
countries. We must be tough. We must be strong. And we must be
AR Trump is losing
friends in NATO.
Quantum Dark Energy
Dark energy was conjured up to explain what
is pushing the universe apart ever faster. It seems to be spread
evenly through space at a density of a few GeV/m^3.
mechanics (QM) says the vacuum is filled with jittering quantum
fields. Calculations suggest a dark energy density way too high, so
perhaps the fields tend to cancel out on big scales.
relativity (GR) says energy is absorbed and released all the time by
the flexing of spacetime. Overall balance is preserved, but the fine
details remain mysterious.
GR and QM see the fundamental
structure of the cosmos differently. GR sees 4D spacetime as smooth
and continuous, but QM implies that on a small scale space is made
up of discrete units. No unified theory of quantum gravity exists.
Perhaps particles feel the granularity of spacetime as friction
and lose energy into space. If so, the matter in the universe has
been losing energy steadily since a fraction of a second ABB. But
the resulting estimate for dark energy strength is still way off.
Quantum cosmology lets the early universe be in a superposition
of many sizes and states at once. The precision with which we can
know the rate the universe is accelerating is uncertain, with
consequences for all other variables that depend on that rate, such
as the density of dark energy.
I vote for uncertain acceleration and dark energy as a rounding
2017 May 25
European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker: "I view President Trump with
increasing sympathy. I think he is beginning to sense the wind of
NATO v Daesh
NATO leaders are expected to agree to
join the US-led coalition against Daesh today as US president Donald Trump
visits NATO headquarters in Brussels. NATO allies anticipate
that he will publicly endorse NATO Article 5 mutual defence
guarantee for the first time in Brussels.
Trump has pressed
allies to intensify NATO counter-terror efforts, a demand backed by
the UK. Germany and France had resisted joining the coalition
against Daesh, but each of the 28 NATO members is already in the
coalition. NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said allies were
still discussing whether NATO should join.
UK prime minister Theresa May: "We must redouble our
resolve to meet the threats to our shared security whether from
terrorism or Russia .. unity in responding to common strengths is
our most potent weapon."
2017 May 24
Terrorists Target Children
The New York Times
The suicide bombing in Manchester,
England, on Monday night that killed young fans of the pop star
Ariana Grande is wrenching.
Daesh claimed responsibility for
the bombing. British police officials believe the suicide was Salman
Abedi, 22, whose parents emigrated from Libya. This attack is an
attempt to provoke a thirst for vengeance and a desire for safety
that sweeps away the most cherished democratic and inclusive values.
Daesh wants to watch Western democracies embrace its mad version of
a holy war pitting Muslims against Christians.
AR NYT published leaked details that
hinder ongoing British law enforcement operations. This will have
implications for UK-US security cooperation going forward.
Service and Care
President Trump met with Pope Francis. Trump described the
meeting as a great honor.
A Vatican statement confirmed their
joint commitment in favor of life, and freedom of worship and
conscience, and called for collaboration between the State and the
Catholic Church in the United States in service to the people in the
fields of healthcare, education and assistance to immigrants.
Francis gave Trump a copy of his encyclical on caring for the
Nearly 7 out of 10 people in the UK
support the creation of a form of world government to deal with
major risks facing the world. Over 6 in 10 say they consider
themselves global citizens.
A survey interviewed 8,100 people
in Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, India, South Africa, the UK
and US. The survey found nearly 9 in 10 supported taking action on
In the UK, over 8 in 10 agreed climate change
could be a global catastrophe. A majority (54%) said they would be
happy for the UK to give up some sovereignty to address such
The Trump Budget
President Trump will call on Congress to
push through $3.6 trillion of spending cuts in order to balance the
federal budget in 10 years. He proposes a range of cuts in welfare
outlays and healthcare support for poorer families, while sheltering
the military, social security, and Medicare.
The first Trump budget appears to contain a logical error of the
kind that would justify failing a student in an introductory
Apparently, the budget forecasts that US
growth will rise to 3% by 2021 thanks to proposed tax cuts and
regulatory policies. Then the administration asserts that it will
propose revenue-neutral tax cuts, with the revenue neutrality coming
in part because the tax cuts stimulate growth.
to be the most egregious accounting error in a presidential budget
in the nearly 40 years I have been tracking them.
president's economic team is failing. Claims about tax cuts not
favoring the rich, claims made for the deal negotiated last week
with China, the ridiculous estimate of the costs of Dodd-Frank, or
the new budget — not one of them meets a minimal standard of
competence and honesty.
2017 May 23
God of Israel
"The ties of the Jewish people to this
holy land are ancient and eternal .. Israel is testament to the
unbreakable spirit of the Jewish people .. My administration will
always stand with Israel."
Donald Trump, Jerusalem
God of Go
The New York Times
The world’s best player of Go has been
defeated by an AI program. Chinese champion Ke Jie, 19, was defeated
by AlphaGo, developed by Google division DeepMind. Ke: "Last year,
it was still quite humanlike when it played, but this year, it
became like a god of Go."
Time in Islam
Ayaan Hirsi Ali
The Islamic conception of time is that
mere chronology is irrelevant in comparison with the theological
sense of eternity. What matters is only the Hereafter, and thus
heaven and hell. Mere terrestrial time is seen as limited and
relatively insignificant, a stepping stone to the infinite. This is
the core of Islam. So working hard and making money, or recreational
things like going to the pub or watching soccer or going to the
movies — all this is rejected as sinful or futile.
AR The Prophet contemplated eternity on
clear nights on a mountaintop.
Time in Physics
In special relativity, the time directions
are structurally different from the space directions. In the
timelike directions, you have a further distinction into the future
and the past, whereas any spacelike direction can be continuously
rotated into any other spacelike direction. The two classes of
timelike directions cannot be continuously transformed into one
If time had no direction, that would make
time into just another spatial dimension. I can imagine a 4D spatial
object, but nothing happens in it. This is the way people often talk
about the block universe. I believe that the past is as real as the
present, which is as real as the future. Things that happened in the
past were just as real. If that is all it means to believe in a
block universe, fine.
The block universe is a rigid
structure. The totality of concrete physical reality specifies that
4D structure and what happens everywhere in it. In Newtonian
mechanics, this object is foliated by planes of absolute
simultaneity. And in relativity you have a light cone structure
instead. So it has a different geometrical character. But the idea
that the block universe is static drives me crazy.
to pass means for events to be linearly ordered, by earlier and
later. The causal structure of the world depends on its temporal
structure. To understand the later states, you look at the earlier
states and not the other way around. The direction of causation is
also the direction of explanation. Time is a fundamental feature of
AR Time is basic in
physics. Quantum mechanics points to a better understanding. The key
is to get the math right — my work in progress on the foundations of
quantum theory has a lot of math in it so I am writing it
anew in TeX (MacTeX, via arXiv).
President Trump in Israel — his
message to Benjamin Netanyahu: If Israel really wants
peace with its Arab neighbors,
the cost will be resolving the
standoff with the Palestinians.
"On those issues, there is a
strong consensus among the nations of the world — including many in
the Muslim world.
I was deeply encouraged by my conversations
with Muslim world leaders in Saudi Arabia, including King Salman,
who .. would love to see peace with Israel and the Palestinians."
Crazy Nut Job
Trump told Russian officials
pressure: "He was crazy,
a real nut job."
PDF, 88 pages
"We do not believe in
untrammelled free markets.
We reject the cult of selfish individualism. We see rigid
and ideology not just
as needless but dangerous ..
we can and must
take this opportunity to
build a great
here in Britain."
PDF, 28 pages
"Never, never, never give up."
"Never, never, never give in."
Robert Mueller will lead
the FBI investigation into
Russian meddling in the
2016 presidential election.
Mueller was FBI director from
2001 to 2013. Barack Obama
called him the gold standard
for leading the bureau.
2017 May 22
Saudis v Iran
Donald Trump in Riyadh on Iran: "It is a
government that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing the destruction
of Israel, death to America, and ruin for many leaders and nations
in this room."
Saudi Arabia and Iran remain the most powerful
countries in the Mideast. Saudi deputy crown prince Mohammed bin
Salman rejects talks with Iran: "We will not wait until the battle
is in Saudi Arabia but we will work so the battle is there in Iran."
Concerns about Iran help explain the warm welcome in Riyadh for
Donald Trump. Saudi Arabia is buffeted by low oil prices, high
unemployment, widespread corruption, and war in Yemen.
will not soon reform. Moderate president Hassan Rouhani has been
re-elected but an imperial foreign policy employs militant groups
such as Hizbollah and Hamas to project armed force.
Arabia and its conservative Sunni allies will be hard pressed to
match Iran even with their new US arms. Saudi-Iranian relations
could all too easily take a turn for the worse.
Trump On Islam
President Trump managed his speech on
Islam in Saudi Arabia without mistakes. He quoted from the Koran,
praised Islamic culture, and heralded a new beginning: "America and
Islam are not mutually exclusive and are not in competition with
Trump is right that the Mideast does not fufill
its potential, but terrorism is only partly to blame. Corruption,
cronyism, and discrimination hold back the Muslim world. The
greatest fear for people in poorer Muslim countries is failing to
find a job or to feed the family.
In Saudi Arabia bibles and
crosses are forbidden and no other faith than Sunni Islam can be
lived freely. For the Saudi rulers, a Muslim who publicly renounces
Islam is a terrorist but a Muslim who blows up in a bus in Jerusalem
is a martyr.
2017 May 21
Battle Between Good and Evil
Our goal is a coalition of nations who share
the aim of stamping out extremism and providing our children a
hopeful future that does honor to God.
This is not a battle
between different faiths, different sects, or different
civilizations. This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek
to obliterate human life, and decent people of all religions who
seek to protect it. This is a battle between good and evil.
There is still much work to be done. That means honestly confronting
the crisis of Islamic extremism and the Islamists and Islamic terror
of all kinds. We must stop what they are doing. Drive them out of
your places of worship, drive them out of your holy land.
Every time a terrorist murders an innocent person, and falsely
invokes the name of God, it should be an insult to every person of
Trump went off script to cite Islamic extremism and Islamic
2017 May 20
in my bed between slumbers,
My thoughts swirled around complex
They made an equation
With artful persuasion
conjured up dreams full of wonders.
A limerick for math can
You just have to do a small sum.
I did one with phi
And imaginary i,
Thought Euler and just let it run.
was an equation well wrought:
E power i phi as first thought,
Then minus cos phi,
Minus i by sin phi,
To find that it all
comes to nought.
Not long after the Big Bang, a hydrogen fog
pervaded the early universe and snuffed out the light of the first
stars and galaxies. For hundreds of millions of years, they were all
but invisible. Eventually this fog burned off as UV light reionized
In the first years ABB, free
particles flew about scattering light. At about 380 ky ABB, they
cooled enough to form H atoms, which clumped into stars. The first
hot stars started the reionization, but they soon died, and later
stars were dimmer and cooler.
Supermassive black holes power
quasars. Because quasars emit way more hard radiation than stars do,
they may have reionized the universe. Astronomers have found faint
quasars at around 1 Gy ABB and evidence for quasars back to 600 My
AR The past was a violent
Hatred, Insanity, Absolute Rubbish
The British government will always hate me.
They will never forgive me for being successful.
A wave of
insanity overcame the political classes of Europe. Europe is not the
EU. I am working for a real Europe, one that does not attempt to
take away from individual member states their national identity.
We British are not allowed to have our own foreign policy. We
are not allowed to have our own trade policy. We have to break this
down. The EU is dying. The whole project is finished.
with the Russian Embassy's deputy chief-of-mission in London in
2013. I said I admire Vladimir Putin. As a political operator, he
was the best in the world.
I never received a penny from
Russia. My campaign was not about money but about messages. I appear
on Russia Today twice a year, or three times last year.
went to meet Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for
journalistic reasons. I met with him very briefly. We talked about a
lot of things.
I used to do politics 100 hours a week. But
now I do politics for 40 hours a week, so I have got a lot of time
to do other things. I am a Fox News contributor. I am an LBC
presenter. I write.
The EU wants to expand to the east and
threatens Russia. I want the EU to be destroyed. The EU is an
anti-democratic, failing structure.
Brexit is the best thing.
The idea that the EU is good for the economy is absolute rubbish.
2017 May 19
The next five years are the most challenging
that Britain has faced in my lifetime.
Brexit will define us.
Now more than ever,
● Britain needs a strong and
● Britain needs strong and
● Britain needs a clear plan
I believe our United Kingdom can emerge from this period of
great national change stronger and more prosperous than ever before.
I believe we can be a country that stands tall in the world and
provides leadership on some of the greatest challenges of our time.
I believe we can — and must — take this opportunity to build a
Great Meritocracy here in Britain.
Five giant challenges:
1 A strong economy that works for
We need to make the most of our existing
strengths, invest in infrastructure and people, and ensure that the
whole of our economy across the whole of our country can grow.
Without a strong economy, we cannot guarantee our security, our
personal prosperity, our public services, or contented and
A strong and united nation
in a changing world
We need to deliver a smooth and
orderly departure from the EU and forge a deep and special
partnership with our friends and allies across Europe. As there is
increasingly little distinction between domestic and international
affairs in matters of migration, national security and the economy,
Britain must stay strong and united — and take a lead in the world
to defend our interests.
For too many people, where you end up
in life is still determined by where you were born and to whom. We
need to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to make the most
of their talents and hard work, whoever you are and wherever you are
4 A restored
contract between the generations
We need to respond to
the reality of an ageing society, giving people security in old age
and caring for those with long-term health conditions, while making
sure we are fair to younger generations.
Prosperity and security in a digital age
sake of our economy and our society, we need to harness the power of
fast-changing technology, while ensuring that our security and
personal privacy — and the welfare of children and younger people —
Theresa May nennt das
Tory-Parteiprogramm ein Porträt Großbritanniens nach dem Brexit.
May hat die Einwanderung als ein Grundproblem definiert, das den
sozialen Zusammenhalt unterminiert. Deshalb wird sie die
Beschäftigungsbedingungen für ausländische Arbeitnehmer in Zukunft
Für den Moment betrifft diese Regelung nur
Nicht-EU-Bürger. Aber die Uhr tickt. Am 30. März 2019 werden
auch die EU-Ausländer voraussichtlich nur noch
einfache Ausländer sein. Dann gehen britische Bürger endgültig vor.
May wird das Reich in eine neue Richtung führen, mit harter
Ich will nicht in einem ausländerfeindlichen Königreich wohnen.
European Maritime Day 2017
Poole, UK, May 18-19, 2017
European Maritime Day is the
annual meeting point for Europe's maritime community to network,
discuss and forge joint action.
The Future of our Seas
Welcome to European Maritime Day 2017. As
it does every year, this conference brings together Europe's
maritime community to exchange ideas and forge partnerships needed
for the blue economy.
From maritime spatial planning to the fight against
illegal fishing, ocean mapping to marine science, habitat
conservation to regional strategies, our collective initiatives have
transformed the way Europe goes about the maritime business.
This year's theme introduces corporate responsibility as
one of the pivotal aspects of sustainability. It therefore strives
to secure commitment not just from governments and NGOs but also
from business leaders all over the world.
Welcome to Poole
Poole is proud to be the host of the
prestigious European Maritime Day conference this year. The program for the
conference at Lighthouse Poole is extensive. In support of European
Maritime Day, Poole has created an interesting and diverse business
program to enable its
local and regional businesses to be part of the event and maximize the opportunities for the region.
is a Conservative councillor and Leader of the Council, Borough of
Poole. I have worked in close coordination with her since 2014.
2017 May 18
Is Trump Toast?
Donald Trump came to the presidency skilled
in the art of deceit. More than forty years ago, Roy Cohn, who lived
for decades under various indictments for bribery, extortion, and
other sins, and yet always managed to escape conviction, instructed
the ambitious young man in the dark arts.
Trump the businessman was spurned by the New York business
community less for his cartoonish flamboyance than for his
dishonesty and meanness of character. He stiffed contractors and
workers, screwed creditors, violated casino regulations, promoted
scams, and bragged of charitable contributions he never made.
In the past two weeks, a presidency of ideological meanness and
unsurpassing incompetence has moved on. The usual comparison is with
the Nixon presidency in the Watergate era.
Nixon aide Roger
Stone was a political mentor to Trump. Roy Cohn introduced Stone to
Trump, and Stone helped Trump see the political advantage in many
sleazy tactics and alliances. Since then, Trump has been the focus
of investigations on housing discrimination, bribery, corruption,
dealings with the mob, misleading earnings reports, fraud, and
improper campaign contributions.
The Trump presidency may
well end before 2021.
The 25th Amendment
The US presidency is not just another
office. Donald Trump has charisma, cunning, an instinct for the
jugular, a common touch, and a certain creativity. But they are not
The presidency now has kinglike qualities, and we
have a child upon the throne. It is a child who blurts out
classified information in order to impress distinguished visitors or
who asks the head of the FBI why the rules cannot be suspended for
his friend and ally. A child also cannot really commit high crimes
The 25th Amendment to the Constitution
allows for the removal of the president if the vice president and a
majority of the cabinet informs the Congress that he is unable to
discharge the powers and duties of his office and (should the
president contest his own removal) a two-thirds vote by Congress
confirms the judgment.
I respectfully ask leading Republicans
to reconsider their support for Trump.
Eurasian eagle owl
Philosophie ihr Grau in Grau malt, dann ist eine Gestalt des Lebens
.. die Eule der Minerva beginnt erst mit der
einbrechenden Dämmerung ihren Flug."
Washington fällt das
Poole protest vote
1987 — 2007
2017 May 17
Most people know Donald Trump is unfit to be
commander-in-chief. But no elected Republican has
dared to act. Over a quarter of Americans are diehard
Trump draws power from alternative
narratives. Whenever the elites express outrage at his actions, his
supporters take pleasure in their anguish. Trump is delivering on
what he promised.
Republicans may bide their time until
midterm elections. If polls were held today Republicans would lose
control of the House of Representatives, and possibly the Senate.
Then they would act.
Republicans stand for national security
and the moral fiber of American leadership. Trump is tearing up
those principles before their eyes. They must hold him to account.
Daniel W. Drezner
Donald Trump improvises, he thinks on
his feet. It sounds like he blurted out national security secrets
because he was bragging.
Trump got what he shared from an
intelligence report. This is probably going to affect the way the US
intelligence community does things like putting together briefing
memos and so forth. You can see why they would be incentivized to
say as little about sources and methods as possible.
Washington Post story is accurate, Trump gave information where it
would be easy to divine where the source came from. So if you are an
intelligence agency, and you want to provide information to the
president, you have to be worried that if you got information from a
sole source, he then might just blurt something out and burn that
Trump has committed a series of gaffes and own goals.
Trump: Let Flynn Go
The New York Times
President Trump asked FBI director
James Comey to shut down the federal investigation into former
national security adviser Michael Flynn. The request is documented
in a memo Comey wrote shortly after an Oval Office meeting that took
place the day after Flynn resigned in February. Such FBI memos are
widely held up in court as credible evidence of conversations.
According to the memo, the president told Comey: "I hope you can
see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a
good guy. I hope you can let this go."
Committee chairman Jason Chaffetz demanded that the FBI turn over
all "memoranda, notes, summaries and recordings" of discussions
between Trump and Comey.
blood — the hunt is on.
Report: Israel Was Source of Secret Trump Intel
Trump Didnt Even Know Where Info Came From
McCain: Trump Scandal
Has Hit 'Watergate Size'
2017 May 16
White House Chaos
This time it did not even take 24 hours
for Donald Trump to throw his staffers under the bus and contradict
The president revealed highly classified
information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador during an
Oval Office meeting last week, potentially endangering a coveted
intelligence asset, compromising a crucial alliance, and undermining
the war effort against Daesh.
After The Post broke the story,
senior White House aides quickly denied it. Then, on Twitter this
morning, Trump essentially acknowledged that our reporting is
AR The Post smells
blood and strikes a pose.
Merkron Drive EZ Motor
French president Emmanuel Macron and German chancellor Angela
Merkel agree on a reconstruction of Europe. They say they are
ready to change the EU treaties to strengthen the EZ.
"In the past the subject of treaty change was a French taboo. That
will no longer be the case. What the eurozone needs is an investment
policy. We have to introduce new, fresh money as a budget. That
requires convergence rules, real structural reforms .. That is the
goal of the joint road map we are working on."
are at a moment where people are looking tentatively at the European
Union and realising it does us a great deal of good, it is important
.. we should use this moment to push forward the strengthening of
Macron: "The French agenda will be an agenda of
reform in the coming months, in economic, social, and educational
terms — not because Europe requests it, but because France needs
Germany On Brexit
There are two Germanys. One is familiar to
Britain: the efficient, sober place where they make the cars and the
dishwashers. These Germans exhibit a pragmatism born of a seafaring
past. For centuries the Hanseatic League had trading posts in London
and in towns all along eastern England. This is the Germany with
which Britain can do business.
There is another Germany. If
the first is the Germany of seas, the second is the Germany of
rivers. It is a romantic land of dense forests and dark past
traumas. It is continental and bleeds into bordering countries. This
is the Germany where many families have collective memories of
oppression and flight. For this Germany, Europe is about more than
The two Germanys are often in tension, and Angela
Merkel bears traces of both sides. The chancellor has Hanseatic
family roots. She thinks that national governments, not the European
Commission, should call the shots in the EU. Yet she also embodies
the Germany of rivers. Merkel grew up behind the Iron Curtain and
bridles at fences and walls.
Brexit has aligned the two
Germanys: The Germany of rivers wants a clean Brexit; the Germany of
seas mourns the loss but essentially agrees. German interests once
served by a closer relationship with London now depend on the
cohesion of the single market. The British who lost their way must
learn there is no deal better than membership.
EU Defense Fund
Brussels plans to spend EU funds for
military purposes. A proposed European Defense Fund would finance
the development of prototype military kit such as drones, robots,
and cyber defence technology. The European Commission will ask
member states and MEPs to back the plans.
France and Germany
believe Brexit will let them deepen EU military activities. EU-27
members will be asked to pool military spending to reinforce
anti-terror defenses and external borders. The new fund raises
pressure on Brussels to make up an annual budget shortfall of €10
billion after Brexit.
Under EU law, the EU budget cannot be
used to fund military operations. Brussels says it can legally set
up a fund tapping the EU budget to develop high-tech military
prototypes. The European Commission believes the fund could spend
€500 million per year on research from 2020.
AR Good plan — pity UK out of it.
2017 May 15
Silk Road Spirit
More than 2,000 years ago, our ancestors,
driven by a desire for friendship, opened the overland and maritime
Silk Roads and thus started a great era of exchanges among
Today, we gather here to renew the Silk Road
spirit and discuss the Belt and Road development for international
cooperation. This is both a continuation of our shared legacy and a
right choice for the future.
We are at a fresh starting
point, ready to embark on a new journey together. So long as we
press ahead with a common vision without back-pedaling or standing
still, we will achieve greater connectivity and benefit from each
Belt and Road initiative
Economic growth is not on solid
ground. Economic globalization is encountering some headwinds.
Development has become more uneven, not to mention the other
challenges that overshadow the world economy, such as wars,
conflicts, terrorism, and a massive flow of refugees and migrants.
Confronted by these challenges, many countries are pondering the
way forward. In a world of growing interdependence and challenges,
no country can tackle all the challenges or solve global problems on
Swan geese can fly far and safely through winds and
storms because they move in flocks and help each other as a team.
The best way to meet challenges and achieve better development is
The Belt and Road initiative is the
project of the century and will add splendor to human civilization.
Accelerationists say computer technology and
global capitalism should be massively sped up and intensified. They
favor robots and cyborgs. A central figure of accelerationism is
British philosopher Nick Land.
Land has published
prolifically on the internet about the obsolescence of western
democracy. He has also written approvingly about human biodiversity,
capitalistic human sorting, and the inevitable disintegration of the
human species as AI improves. Accelerationism is not about
Land taught philosophy at the University of
Warwick. He wrote in 1992 that capitalism had always been held back
by politics and saw civilization accelerating toward an apocalypse.
He said he worked in the field of The Collapse of Western
In 1995, Land and others founded the
Cybernetic Culture Research Unit (CCRU). Initially based in the Warwick philosophy department, it later moved to a
room above a shop in Leamington Spa. Its members remain attached to the idea that it became a kind of group mind.
Even inside the Warwick philosophy department, its
disdain for standard academic practice became an issue.
Early in the new millennium, after a breakdown, Land left
Britain. He now lives in Shanghai. In a 2004 article, he described
the modern Chinese fusion of Marxism and capitalism as the greatest
political engine of social and economic development the world has
Mind and Body
You are the subject.
You are not
your body. The body is part of your experience, just as things in
the world outside are part of your experience. Both are you.
At every moment, you are an experience identical with an object that
is causally affecting your body. You are the thing that has your
experience. You experience those objects.
A subject is a
combination of objects relative to your body. To be a subject is to
experience objects relative to your body. We each experience a world
that differs from what others experience.
The self is the
AR This is the position I
worked out in Mindworlds.
2017 May 14
Eurovision 2017 was won for Portugal by
The song was immensely, stoppingly surprising,
Hopes for the "epic sax guy" of Moldova were doomed.
Romania ran with a phenomenal mix of yodelling meets rap.
came on with a lovely mix of hip-hop and gypsy.
many high mad hopes for a dreadful mélange.
Lucie Jones sang well
for the UK and garnered many votes.
Denmark went for an Aussie
who is still learning the language.
Ukraine gyrated around a
giant heavy metal head.
Germany went with a sweet but unmemorable
My father was a socialist. I see myself as a conscious capitalist. You have to respect what
money and success gives you, then have the responsibility that goes
with that. My strength of character is a privilege. I can do
anything to survive.
I expected people to be nasty. I didn't
expect people to say I wasn't even human, that I was a primate, and
that I should be beheaded and shot. Other people took out Facebook
campaigns to gang-rape me because that's what black bitches deserve.
The one repeated over and over is that I should be the second Jo
Cox. Now I have security all around my home.
sending me letters about what was happening. This young Polish woman
who was standing at a bus stop up north was kicked to the ground. A
grandmother said her grandson won't go to school because he's been
told he's a monkey and he should get back home. I get these all the
time now, and they are saying I need to be their voice.
hard-right element in the Conservative party is gaining more and
more power. Their agenda is quite simply low tax, low regulation,
low social spending. They make lots of money for themselves and
watch everybody else suffering.
Angry old men are shaping the future of the
country against the inclinations of its youth. By 2019 the country
could be in a receptive mood: 2.5 million over-18-year-olds, freshly
franchised and mostly remainers; 1.5 million oldsters, mostly
Brexiters, freshly in their graves.
Brexit has stirred something not heroic or celebratory or generous
in the nation, but instead has coaxed into the light from some dark,
damp places the lowest human impulses, from the small-minded to the
mean-spirited to the murderous.
2017 May 13
The star TRAPPIST-1 is circled by seven
planets about the size of Earth. The clockwork of the star system is
the most complex case yet of a resonant chain, where the years of
each orbiting body relate to one another as simple ratios. For every
8 times the innermost world races through its orbit, the next planet
goes around roughly 5 times, the next one after that orbits 3 times,
and the next one 2 times. And so on.
Matt Russo, Daniel
Tamayo, and Andrew Santaguida have translated their intricate dance
into a musical composition —
Trappist Sounds (1:54).
The seventh planet, h, orbits
about once every 3 weeks. Sped up some 200 million times and
expressed in sound waves, that frequency is a C note. From there,
the known ratios between planets determine every other signature
note. Together the notes form a major ninth chord. The team added
drumbeats for whenever an inner planet overtakes an outer neighbor,
marking close gravitational interactions among the planets.
Quantum particles are bubbles of froth
kicked up by underlying fields. The fields fluctuate in intensity
and direction. The average value of the electromagnetic field in a
vacuum is zero, but the average value of its square is not, so the
energy density in an EM field is infinite.
fluctuations are virtual particles or zero-point motion. They
involve an infinite amount of energy. But only changes in energy are
observable, and confirm predictions.
Gravity responds to all
kinds of energy. So the infinite energy density associated with the
activity of quantum fields is a problem. Experiments show the
gravitational pull of the vacuum is quite small.
density of the vacuum is dark energy. For fields associated with
bosons the energy density is positive infinity, while for fields
associated with fermions the energy density is negative infinity.
The infinities can cancel in supersymmetric theories.
addition to fluctuating fields, the vacuum contains condensates,
such as the Higgs condensate, which should also weigh something.
Perhaps the measured level of dark energy is an anthropic feature of
our corner of the multiverse. I hope we find a better story.
AR I like loop quantum gravity — see
Russian Foreign Ministry
Trump with Sergey Lavrov
and Sergey Kislyak
Buzz Aldrin: "We can afford
to go to Mars .. We must
our limited resources
on only those things that
Get your ass to Mars!"
2017 May 12
Theresa May and the
Conservatives are on course for a landslide victory.
speaks as if Britain is a nation united, aside from the divisive
forces of party politics and liberal elites seeking to thwart the
will of the people. She claims her opponents are merely playing
political games and stresses the need for strong and stable
leadership — a classic populist trope.
Her campaign message
is simple and strong. A campaign video sees her speaking solemnly in
front of a Union Jack in a dimly lit room as if announcing a new
war, using the majestic plural variously to mean her party, her
government, or all true Brits. The viewer is blinded by her majesty.
If Brexit goes bad, she and her party will be the rock in the
AR FUK v EUSSR — Brexit is
Battle of Britain 2.
Another Tweet Too Far
Trump tweet: "James Comey better hope that
there are no 'tapes' of our conversations before he starts leaking
to the press!"
The Republican dam must break. The party once
united by political thought and respect for civic virtue has adopted
an unscrupulous leader for the sake of holding power. Republicans
defend ignorance, bigotry, dishonesty, and ineptitude for the sake
of a top marginal tax rate of 28% — this seems shockingly
Trump says he fired James Comey because he
decided Russian interference in the election was fake news. The
entire intelligence community confirms the interference and members
of both parties acknowledge it. Republicans are refusing to concede
that bullying and firing the FBI director is impeachable conduct.
We are not surprised that the president thinks he can shut down
an investigation if he dislikes the way it is going. We are
surprised that so many conservatives are letting tribal loyalty
trump the truth. We hope the dam breaks soon.
AR Terminate the Terminator — asap.
A handful of American technology companies
now dominates much of the global economy. The Frightful Five —
Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, and Alphabet, the parent company
of Google — are among the most valuable companies on the planet,
collectively worth trillions. Apple reached $800 billion in market
cap this week, and the others may not be far behind.
way to appreciate the power of these five might be to examine the
role each of them plays in your own life, and the grip each holds on
your psyche. Last week I came up with a fun game: If an evil monarch
forced you to abandon each of the Frightful Five, in which order
would you do so, and how much would your life deteriorate as a
AR The real story of our time —
(ppsx, 6.4 MB).
2017 May 11
After the president fired James Comey,
the cloud hanging over the White House got bigger and darker. Donald
Trump looks like he does not want to get to the bottom of Russian
interference in the US election and the potential wrongdoing of his
POTUS 45 has surrounded himself with sycophants
and amateurs. They were caught off guard by the blowback. Senate
investigators have asked the Treasury Department criminal
investigation division for any relevant financial information
related to Trump and his team.
Terminating Comey will only
lead to more questions about Russia. Hours later Trump met in the
Oval Office with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and
ambassador Sergey Kislyak, implicated by the FBI in the Michael Flynn investigation.
The FBI fears the Russia investigation might now be upended.
Trump has hired a Washington law firm to deny that he has
connections to Russia. This will give new momentum to Democratic
calls for a special prosecutor.
Consumption is as much about state
intervention as about individuals or markets. For a consumer society
to flourish, goods have to be invited in. The drive for accumulation
is made a virtue.
Marxists said commodity fetishism put a
price on the products of labor and alienated things from their
makers. In 1958, J.K. Galbraith said consumerism had sapped people
of their commitment to the public good.
State spending is
part of the story of consumption. Crucial to postwar affluence in
Europe and the United States was sharply increasing public spending.
Social democracy spurred on consumerism.
Consumption is a
juggernaut. We can lament the volume of stuff we purchase, yet much
of our waste is from habits that have little to do with individual
motives or morality.
Researchers are exploring the tree of life
to consider where, when, and why consciousness emerged.
Seth says we can infer the evolutionary history of consciousness by
comparing animals alive today and working back to their common
ancestor. As we observe signs of consciousness in other animals, we
can gradually refine our notion of what we are talking about.
Jesse Prinz says consciousness is largely about perception and
emotion. These basic components of conscious experience could be
widespread, even in animals that lack our mental sophistication and
Bjørn Grinde finds that mammals, birds, and
reptiles all show signs of emotional responses, while fish and
amphibians do not. The brains of higher vertebrates show that the
ability to assign value to an experience arose around 300 million
years ago in their common ancestor. Consciousness is slow and energy
intensive, and can only do one thing at a time, so perhaps it
emerged just once.
Bruno van Swinderen looked at selective
attention. He trained fruit flies to walk on a trackball in front of
a virtual scene. By rotating the trackball, the flies could choose
which of two objects to attend to. When a fly attended to an object,
its brain generated specific frequencies recorded by probes. A
dynamic window of attention that moved around and suppressed
competing objects marked the dawn of consciousness. The animals that
pay attention also need to sleep and include vertebrates, insects,
crustaceans, and octopuses.
Michael Graziano says selective
attention is about data handling. An animal needs a mental model of
attention much as it needs a mental model of its body. This model is
responsible for our conscious awareness of the world. Perhaps such
sophistication is only found in vertebrates.
believes unlimited associative learning is a marker for the origin
of consciousness. This requires selective attention, binding
sensations into a perception, performing compound action patterns,
and distinguishing between self and environment. Such learning is
widespread in the animal kingdom and may have evolved about half a
billion years ago.
2017 May 10
I believe that a Brexit
deal remains more likely than unlikely. There is more that unites
the two sides than separates them. A no-deal scenario would be a
disaster for all.
An early challenge will be to agree on the
rights of EU citizens in the UK and vice versa. The complexities at
stake include residency, healthcare, social security, and
non-discrimination. All of these rights will need a mutually agreed
The debate about a financial
settlement is likely to be complex and heated. The EU will not seek
to punish the UK, but it is only fair that the UK agrees to pay its
share of outstanding commitments and liabilities. It would be wrong
for EU taxpayers to be asked to pay it.
The third priority is
a solution to protect the Good Friday Agreement. This may ultimately
require a special status for Northern Ireland. Many Irish citizens
residing in Northern Ireland will continue to enjoy rights as EU
The EU and the UK should aim for a future
association agreement that goes beyond trade to include security and
defence cooperation. Discussions about a future partnership can only
start when there is clarity about how the existing relationship is
I am confident the gulf between the EU and the UK
government can be bridged. Achieving this will require cool heads.
Failure would not be in the interests of either side.
AR Good start
Tim P Whitby/Getty Images
Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains
V&A Museum, London, 2017-05-13 — 2017-10-01
APC in Arctic camo
Christianity and Jews
Poole Bay bathing season
has begun —
sea is still chilly
Ne nous quittez pas!
— eine politische
World Naked Gardening Day
UK 1P State
UK Local Elections
Lib Dem -37
AR England is blue.
"These negotiations are
difficult enough as they are.
start arguing before they
even begin, they will become
impossible. [We] need today
respect, and a
maximum of goodwill."
La France et le franc
Marine Le Pen has dropped
her manifesto pledge to quit
the euro and restore the franc.
Pundits feared an instant
Commons European scrutiny
committee chair Sir
is sure Germany and the EU are
May: "What they are doing is
trying to exploit a
of project fear."
Tim Berners-Lee wins
Axel Springer Award
Tony Blair: "What's
in Britain worries me .. I know
the moment I stick
out the door I'll get a bucket
of wotsit poured all
me, but I really do feel
passionate about this."
2017 May 9
RAF Atlas Success
The UK Ministry of Defence says the key
contractual milestone has been met following the handing over of its
seventh Airbus A400M airlifter. The RAF has four A400M Atlas
aircraft in service and three undergoing installation and testing of
a defensive subsystem. The RAF A400M fleet is achieving excellent
in-service results, with a mission success rate in excess of 90%.
sieht die militärische Einsatzfähigkeit des Transportflugzeugs A400M
wegen anhaltender technischer Probleme und der Vertragsquerelen mit
dem Hersteller Airbus gefährdet. Airbus werde nicht die nötigen
Investitionen tätigen, um erforderliche Nachbesserungen am A400M
auf den Weg zu bringen, schreibt das Ministerium.
AR Kognitive Dissonanz
We seem to have no privacy. The
intelligence agencies can access just about everything. This is the
The Internet of Things affects safety. In the old
days, car safety was about hardware. Now you get software updates in
one car after another. A threat to cause millions of cars in America
to turn right and accelerate sharply into the nearest building,
bringing traffic to a standstill in all American cities, is an
The Internet brings three steps forward
and one step back. The industry is rather bad at recognizing the
backward steps. It tends to hope that other people will clean up its
The UK government made a serious mistake when it let
GCHQ break into Belgacom in order to wiretap the European
Commission. That seriously annoyed the Eurocrats. There are hazards
involved in lowering the threshold for conflict.
we have seen the progressive adoption of social media techniques and
messaging. In the Scottish referendum in 2014, nationalists hounded
and abused people in favor of remaining in the UK. We saw the same
thing in the Brexit referendum in the UK.
These are problems
we shall be wrestling with for the next decade.
AR Cherries picked from an Edge
2017 May 8
The landslide victory of Emmanuel Macron
gives Europe hope. France faced a clear choice between EZ reform or
quitting. This election was about the future of France in Europe.
France and Germany have similar labor productivity and have had
similar economic performance since 2000. But Macron will need to get
French debt down from 100% of GDP to the EU target of 60%, as
Germany will by 2020. Fortunately, the EZ economy is in a mild
AR EZ union
will be a home run for Western ideals.
Brextremists make ten strategic
1 The UK is not
so united: The people of Northern Ireland, Wales, and Scotland can
only dream of a similar level of cohesion on Brexit within the UK as
in the EU-27.
have always sought to divide and conquer Europe. But the frontal
attack on Poles in the UK last summer offended Poland, a potential
ally against the EU.
Brextremists take pride in misjudging EU realities from pure
arrogance. Their misunderstanding and contempt for the EU met its
nemesis in EU-27 unity on Brexit.
Their dream of a special deal between Theresa May and Angela Merkel
was always a long shot. Merkel is far too cautious to let the UK
start picking cherries.
say the UK is in much better economic shape than the EZ. But the UK
economic outlook is stormy, while the much maligned EZ economy is
6 Brextremists failed
to see that Brexit would weld the EU together. Brexit is a gift from
the gods to the EU, which lacked a deterrent against leaving until
7 The threat of a hard
Brexit is a spectacular own goal. A Brexit with no agreement hurts
first and foremost the UK.
EU members think the EU is stronger with the UK. They hope the UK
will relent and see reason. Germans want allies and have no desire
to appease Brextremists.
Theresa May says EU-27 unanimity on Brexit increases uncertainty and
instability for the UK. She sounds like Marine Le Pen.
10 Brextremists are wrong to imagine
that after the French and German elections resistance to UK demands
will collapse and the UK will win.
A partisan perspective, but some hits.
2017 May 7
Emmanuel Macron président de la République
AR Big relief —
French voters have seen reason.
The French Are Better
France is the most visited country in
the world. It is well administered, its roads are among the best in
the world, its public transport systems are incomparable, and it is
Every small town in France has at least one
independent bookshop. One cannot attribute the
high cultural level in France to bookshops alone, but at the least
they help to maintain it. The attention to detail in shops is a
sharp contrast with Britain. All this adds to the enjoyment of life.
France has its problems, too. Its immigrant banlieues are
frightful battery farms of resentment, trafficking, and delinquency.
Its educational system has deteriorated and its modern architecture
is among the worst in the world. Its labour laws, social charges,
regulations, and legal bias inhibit small businesses and seem to
The rigidity of the labour market leads to
higher unemployment, but the difficulty of getting rid of
an employee gives the employer an incentive to train him to be more
efficient. And the French are efficient: far fewer of them working
far fewer hours produce at least as much as the British.
French, like us all, have their vices. They are the most abominable
hypocrites about money. They talk equality and exude avarice and
envy. Their snobbery is as bad as ours. But we should not exaggerate
their woes, the better to avoid confronting our own.
2017 May 6
Quantum information theorists say
information is physical. When energy spreads from hot objects to
cold ones, particles become entangled and information spreads
between them. Since information is conserved, if entropy reflects an
information snapshot of a system, the universe can evolve yet always
have a global entropy of zero.
Imagine a big bath of
particles that possess energy and angular momentum. This bath is
coupled to a weight, for energy, and a turntable, for angular
momentum. Normally, to do work you need hot and cold reservoirs. But
a reservoir containing multiple conserved quantities follows
In the big bath system, you can trade
between conserved quantities like energy and angular momentum. The
weight can rise as the turntable slows, or vice versa, using the
qubits describing the energy and rotation states as a currency.
Trading conserved quantities like this is a new idea.
AR Entropy is obviously relative to a
snapshot — this is the good part of QBism.
The wavefunction of a system encodes
the probabilities for the outcomes of any measurements an observer
might perform on it. The wavefunction probabilities are Bayesian and
are updated as new data come to light. The wavefunction describes
the observer's perspective.
Quantum Bayesianism solves many
mysteries. Collapse of the wavefunction is simply the observer
updating a data snapshot after making a measurement. Spooky action
at a distance also reflects the update of a snapshot. QBism treats
the wavefunction as a description of a snapshot.
AR This is my take on QBism — Fuchs'
take is mostly nonsense, imho.
2017 May 5
In Europe, recent trends have elevated an
educated upper class while separating it from a declining and
fragmenting working class. A growing immigrant population serves
this upper class while seeming to compete with downscale natives for
jobs, housing, and social benefits.
Europe is stuck with a
flawed experiment in political economy, a common currency without a
common fiscal policy or a central political authority to claim
legitimacy. The damage that this combination has done to the
economies of Southern Europe is striking and severe.
has sub-replacement fertility. A continent of historic states
without a strong assimilative tradition is attempting to integrate
an immigrant population that differs dramatically from its natives.
Part of this immigrant population is tempted by jihadist ideologies.
European governance has a democratic deficit. The EU ruling
class relies on illiberal methods to maintain the peace. Elite EU
politics seems to believe that the important thing is to concentrate
every effort on delegitimizing and defeating critics rather than
Right-wing populists are not outliers in an
otherwise harmonious and liberal Europe. It is not right-wing
authoritarians but the great and good of Brussels and Berlin who
have shown consistent contempt for the popular will. The European
Union has problems its leadership cannot or will not solve.
2017 May 4
L'euro et la peur
Marine Le Pen: "L'euro, c'est
la monnaie des banquiers, ce n'est pas la monnaie du peuple .. c'est
la raison pour laquelle il faut que l'on arrive à s'arracher à cette
monnaie .. les Français auront une monnaie dans leur portefeuille,
une monnaie qui permettra de retrouver un niveau adapté de notre
économie et de partir à la conquête du monde."
Macron: "Une grande entreprise ne pourra pas payer en euros d'un
côté et payer ses salariés de l'autre en francs. Ca n'a jamais
existé, madame Le Pen. C'est du grand n'importe quoi."
Pen: "L'économie britannique ne s'est jamais aussi bien portée que
depuis que les Britanniques ont décidé de reprendre leur liberté."
Macron: "La grande peur, qui la manipule depuis le début? C'est
vous. Qui joue sur les peurs? C'est vous. La grande prêtresse de la
peur, elle est en face de moi."
In a busy life, our activity
separates us from our deeper selves. With our smartphones and
computer screens, we often remain caught on the surface of our
lives, drowning in soulless materialism.
Over the years I
have developed a number of simple practices that bring together
action and a quality of mindfulness that can nourish our lives in
hidden ways. Activities like mindful walking or cooking with love
and attention can reconnect us with life in its beauty and wonder.
One of these practices is cleaning.
The art of cleaning is a
simple spiritual activity that is often overlooked. Cleaning a
table, dusting a shelf, I give attention and love, because
everything responds to love and care. When I clean I am also caring
for what is around me, knowing that it, too, needs to be loved.
I love to clean. In cleaning my living space I am clearing up
debris that clutters our life more than we realize. Just as ritual
bathing prepares the worshipper, or just as we may take off our
shoes at the entrance to a temple or mosque, cleaning is an
important preparation for living with the sacred in our daily life.
We need to learn how to clear up after ourselves. To give space
to the divine, to return to the sacred, we need to relearn how to
live lightly, to leave as little debris behind us as we can.
2017 May 3
The EU will bar Theresa May from negotiating Brexit with other
EU leaders. European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker told
her that under the EU mandate European Commission chief negotiator
Michel Barnier would run the talks on behalf of the EU.
EU figures seem to think talking with UK Brexit minister David Davis
is pointless. They could substitute EU deputy negotiator Sabine
Weyand for Barnier to give May a graceful way out.
line: The EU is ready to up the UK Brexit bill to €100
AR Either the tone of
the proceedings improves or the UK is doomed.
Theresa May says Jean-Claude Juncker will be
the next person to find she can be a "bloody difficult woman" as
cabinet frustration over the Brexit negotiations mounts.
AR Either this is just posturing for
voters or the UK is doomed.
Logic says those tasked with delivering
Brexit should be those who supported the ludicrous idea in the first
place. But almost everyone who understood international trade backed
Remain. So the ministers now delivering Brexit are:
● Liam Fox — tours the world
as trade secretary to advertise how many principles Britain will
flog off in order to sign trade deals, and motivates British
business by calling it fat and lazy.
● David Davis — has prior
ministerial experience of the EU, but he has no time for doubts
about a hard Brexit, and is relaxed about not assessing the effects
of a Brexit with no deal.
● Boris Johnson — decided to
back Leave after writing one column for Brexit and one for Brussels,
and deciding which one he preferred, mistaking good rhetoric for
AR Either May
accepts harder logic or the UK is doomed.
2017 May 2
Theresa May enjoyed a "very constructive
meeting" with Jean-Claude Juncker, said a UK government spokesman.
But Juncker later told Angela Merkel that May lives in another
galaxy. Merkel then said in the Bundestag that London was under
illusions about Brexit negotiations.
The EU plans to present
a Brexit bill of around €60 billion, but May said the UK does not
have to pay a cent. She also demanded an immediate start to talks on
a future trade deal. The EU first wants to sort out the bill and
clarify the future rights of EU citizens living in the UK.
Last week the British cited the purdah rule to delay the EU budget.
The rule says that during an election campaign a UK government
cannot enter into any financial obligations that would bind its
successors. Perhaps the EU should postpone all talks until after
Prime Minister, 2019 (not)
Despite the unstinting efforts of
my government, the UK and the EU have been unable to reach an
agreement. I must warn you that difficult times lie ahead. There
will be severe disruption to trade and travel for an extended period
of time, and this could lead to a serious recession. Britain has
made a democratic decision to leave the EU, but the EU has proved
unwilling to accept that decision and negotiate a fair deal.
Instead, it is determined to punish the UK.
politicians seem to believe that they can humiliate Britain and bend
the country to their will. Clearly, they have no knowledge of the
history or nature of the British people. A country that has defeated
Hitler, the Kaiser, Napoleon, and the Spanish Armada has no reason
to fear the bureaucrats of Brussels, or the governments of Malta and
This royal throne of kings, this
This earth of majesty, this seat of
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of
men, this little world,
This precious stone set in
the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,—
blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.
(with thanks to Gideon Rachman)
French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron
says France could exit from the EU if it does not reform. He said he
has defended European ideas and policies, but he has to listen to
people who are now extremely angry and impatient. He said he would
seek to make fundamental reforms to the EU and the European project,
and added that it would be fraud if he let the EU remain as is.
French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has backed off from
her promised Frexit. She now says she would favor a soft exit — and
only after several months of talks with European partners.
AR My favored scenario: EU heads off
both Frexit and Brexit with commitment to deep reforms.
2017 May 1
Jessica T. Mathews
Asia is home to 4.4 billion people.
China became the world's largest economy (measured by PPP) in 2014.
Its growth has lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty, financed
the US deficit, and let China massively increase military spending.
President Xi Jinping has built public
support for his view that China is claiming its rightful place as a
world power after more than a century of foreign humiliation.
Communist Party legitimacy no longer rests on ideology but on
economic growth. Xi has launched a vigorous campaign against elite
corruption, conveniently jailing many of his political opponents.
India is growing faster than China but is still far behind.
Culturally and politically, India is facing west. Its relations with
the US have been growing steadily closer since 2000. The success of
Indian immigrants in the US is a powerful factor.
China, and Japan are three of the world’s four largest economies, by
PPP. Though today the US and the EU together remain substantially
larger, their ability to impose order on the world is not what it
once was. But the dominance of the West is driven as much by values
and ideas as by economic and military power.
took the US out of the TPP, which did not include China. A few weeks
later, China sent officials to a meeting of the remaining TPP
members to discuss a new trade regime around China, and not the US.
Trump has made cuts to the State Department, to foreign aid, and to
most international institutions and programs.
Mattis, 2013: "If you don't fund the State Department fully, then I
need to buy more ammunition ultimately."
AR The Hegelian Weltgeist returns to
My beach, Mayday